Please help, I would like to advertise my fantasy adventure novel, Ages of Aenya, but it won’t let me get started because, for some reason, the book has been labeled as erotica. My book is NOT erotica! It has never been erotica. There is a lot more adult/erotic content in Game of Thrones and other fantasy novels. The cover is intended to be reminiscent of Classical / Renaissance art, the kind you might see in churches in Europe. There is nothing suggestive about the pose or the background or the situation. It is clearly an adventure story. If you would not consider Michelangelo’s Sistene Chapel erotica, you should not label Ages of Aenya erotica either.
Any help in this matter would be greatly appreciated.
It isn’t just Amazon—both Facebook and Twitter have rejected my attempts to advertise my book on their platforms due to “erotic” content. This is quite insane, when you consider the amount of rape, incest and prostitution jumping off America’s current favorite fantasy epic, A Song of Ice and Fire, better known as A Game of Thrones. Every social media outlet has no issue advertising that book, which I would never consider giving to my kids to read, but Ages of Aenya, which could probably be made into a Disney film, is banned from public perusal, because, God forbid, we see a female shape and NOT be selling sex.
There is no rape, no mention of masturbation, and no lurid description of body parts, and yet Ages of Aenya is being sold by Amazon as erotica. There is, admittedly, a single mild sex scene, lasting one paragraph out of 667 pages. But since Ages of Aenya features naturist heroes in it, most American readers assume the book has something to do with erotica, because readers who know nothing about naturism believe naked = sex.
Naturism is the opposite of porn. Porn fetishizes the body, sexually stimulating viewers through imagery that emphasizes, and exaggerates, the genitals. The goal of naturism is the reverse—focusing attention away from our reproductive organs, so we might learn to see ourselves in a healthier and more natural way. Porn dehumanizes, whereas naturism humanizes. Human worth (and that of other humanoid species) is a major theme in Ages of Aenya, nudity serving as a metaphor for humanity, and it plays out throughout the novel, in the way the Ilmar, with their wanton disregard for body taboos, are regarded as simple savages, or in how the aquatic merquid are considered mindless monsters, or in how the conquering Septhera treat humans like herd animals, to how, in the book’s closing chapters, the cyborg entity that is Horde, having lost the humanity he once possessed, comes to disregard every other life form as something beneath him. I suppose it is a bit ironic, how Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and a host of likely-to-be-disappointed readers, have misjudged and mischaracterized the book, in the same way the Ilmar are misjudged and mischaracterized in the actual story. It’s life imitating art!
I guess I should have been more practical, and not have commissioned such a risque illustration, but I honestly believed that the cover could in no way be misconstrued. Yes, there’s implied nudity on display, but there is not a butt crack, nipple or bush in sight. Thelana is in profile and mostly in silhouette, and not in any kind of suggestive pose, but still Facebook called it, and I quote, “sex services.” Like I was making an ad for a Vegas bordello. Meanwhile, customers at checkout counters throughout the country are treated to magazines like this:
We are not by any means a prudish country, but a sexually depraved one. As a writer, I have longed to introduce a more innocent way of looking at ourselves. But American biases are too deeply rooted. A history of Puritanism, combined with a multi-billion dollar clothing and porn industry, has merged into a perfect storm of duplicity. In this good ol’ US of A, we are given two choices, Disney or PornHub, and whatever middle ground that may have existed is quickly waning.
Xandr and Thelana are inspired from Classical and Renaissance art. What most Americans don’t seem to realize, with their chainmail bikini clad Red Sonja figures, is that UNDERWEAR, as we know it, simply did not exist in ancient times. The bra is roughly one hundred years old, having been made popular by the SEARS department store catalogue. Bathing suits would also have been a complete mystery to the Greeks and Romans of antiquity. What is disheartening, for me, is when I visit a tourist shop in Greece, to find some inaccurate and anachronistic statue of Leonidas, now made famous after the film 300, donning some ridiculous, Fruit-of-the-Loom-style briefs. Puritanical values have been hoisted onto my heritage, with the suggestion that we should feel shame for an attitude we have never, in two thousand years, felt the need to feel shame over. Fortunately, the statue at Thermopylae retains the tradition of the heroic nude, though I imagine many American tourists getting offended by the penis on display. What is this, sex services?
Now, just for shits and giggles, let’s look at some Classical / Renaissance art through the American cultural eye (ALL of these are comments I have actually received in reference to Aenya).