Tattooed hands typing on a typewriter.

Writing Erotica: An interview with an adult romance writer

8 mins read

“Love stick”, “velvet cave” and “gummy” are all euphemisms that adult romance writer Miranda Shepard steers clear of.  

In an interview with Brig, Shepard explains how her literary happy endings keep it real.

Happy Endings that keep it real  

A copywriter by day and experienced freelancer, Shepard has seen her fair share of what’s out there.  Think 50 Shades of Grey or Bridgerton.  

As she puts it, video-based porn – much like the literary kind – is mainly focused on people who are young, traditionally good looking and fabulously wealthy. But Shepard does not write erotica centred on cookie-cutter people.  

Being plus-sized, bisexual, and coming from a working-class Scottish background – she’s tired of the lack of representation in the publishing industry, as well as the joy publishers seem to find in marketing off misery.  

As she puts it, if critics describe a book about working-class Scots as “haunting” they mean that it’s “fucking miserable”, and with good humour, she explains that Scottish people are not miserable.  

So, she focuses on happy endings saying:

“Why would they want to read another character’s trauma that they’ve already lived. Give them the fairy tale.”   

Her writing subsequently tells romance stories that real people can see themselves in – with erotica spliced in-between.  

Anyone that might not fit the conventional erotica mould is who you will find in Shepard’s work because in her words “They’re still sexy.”  

“They still have sex lives and people who are older or fatter or disabled should be able to see themselves in that fiction.”  

Miranda Shepard
red heart on a old opened book ii
Photo by Kaboompics .com on

Writing about Sex… what’s that like?  

Shepard doesn’t hold back on the variety of odd experiences that come with freelancing; her friend was once recruited to write letters to win back the affections of a scorned lover… those letters were in fact successful.  

But when discussing how she writes erotica, Shepard admits that much of it is pretty unsexy:

“You still have to develop good characters to have a good sex scene because they have to have chemistry.”  

Miranda Shepard

She emphasizes that writing a good sex scene comes down to simply writing a good scene that just so happens to have sex.  

On what makes it different? She says there are some basic practicalities.  

Shepard makes the point that those who read erotica tend to want to feel like they’re there experiencing it whereas those who watch porn just want to watch it. So, engaging the senses is a key point for Shepard.  

a stack of vintage books on the bed
Photo by Jill Wellington on

Skirting around calling things what they are is a big no for Shepard with her saying: “Don’t be afraid to be vulgar… whilst the term might be ugly that’s what it’s there for.”  

Nothing is worse than a cringy euphemism in her eyes.  

Figuring out if particular positions or locations make sense has also led Shepard down some odd search-bar ventures:

“Google it and you’ll find someone who has made it work… and then you can look at it and go is that actually sexy?”  

Miranda Shepard

According to Shepard, the answer is usually no – from her research she has concluded that the “shower is a wealth of dangers.”  

Overall, she also emphasizes that laughter during sex is important as if you can’t laugh during sex – you’re with the wrong person.  

And so, in her sex scenes, you will find:

“A little bit of messiness, a little bit of laughter and things going wrong. It all actually makes it more endearing.”   

person holding white printer paper
Photo by cottonbro studio on

First comes writing about love… then comes publication.  

Shortly before the pandemic, Shepard was recruited to create concepts for erotica stories with non-mainstream characters.  

When she didn’t hear back from the person who commissioned them, she decided that she might as well write them for herself.  

On what motivated her to continue the new project, Shepard says she’d been “… depressed for a long time and needed something to keep myself busy.”  

Finding her life flipped upside down and moving back home with family, writing happy endings provided her with a sense of escapism and purpose. After having written the stories, she figured she might as well publish them.  

Shepard notes that she applied to a couple different publications – but to no avail. So, she went down the self-publishing route on Amazon, testing out the age-old adage of whether sex really sells.  

Her findings? It depends.  

Whilst not banning sexual content, Amazon most certainly does not promote it on their home page.  

This paired with social media platforms being notoriously iffy about sexual content and her Instagram profile subsequently being taken down (despite not being explicit) has made marketing and promoting her work rather difficult.  

Shepard has since decided to remarket her writing as adult romances which in her words “have the main plot as the romance, but you just actually get the good stuff at the end instead of the ‘and then they got married and lived happily ever after…”  

In doing so, she’s hoping that she’ll be able to reach a wider audience as she’ll be able to make use of Amazon’s marketing services that she is currently not eligible for.  

Another hurdle to her marketing, Shepards admits, has been her unwillingness to use her real name.  

On why she has taken to using a penname, Shepard says: “I’m hoping to get a PhD and be a lecturer… I don’t want future students finding it when they’re googling my textbooks.”  

“I know what my lecturers were like… and I know I don’t want to think of my lecturers like that.”  

Future Ventures

As it stands, Shepard has an up-and-coming queer adult romance novel that sees a bisexual woman move to a small town and fall in love with the local handywoman.  

You can find her at her newly published blog where she posts about her writing process.

Featured Image Credit: Ron Lach via Pexels

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South African student journalist in my second year of doing my Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Journalism Studies.

Instagram: @x_.lin_x

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