Most of the time I bet the answer to the question is "no." No one assumes that writers who write about serial killers have gone and killed people for research or that fantasy writers actually believe in elves. But for some reason when it comes to romance, in particular, erotic romance, people start making all kinds of assumptions.
Perhaps because sometimes those assumptions are true. But many times they're not.
And unfounded assumptions can be dangerous (as is the case is yesterday's debacle with the news station "outing" teacher/writer Judy Mays and painting her as some sort of demented pervert because she writes erotic romance in her off time. And for the record, I wouldn't care if she was swinging from the chandeliers in her off time. It's her off time and it's her right. But don't get me started.)
But here's my question for you guys--what do you assume about a romance writer when you're reading the book? If they write kinky stuff or BDSM, do you think they're in that lifestyle? Do you assume they are writing love scenes that they've experienced in real life? Or do you believe it's a just healthy imagination?
And does it matter to you? For instance, do you prefer someone to be writing from a credible standpoint (like Kink Cred as writer Tiffany Reisz talks about in her post today at Dirty Birdies)?
I personally don't care if someone has the cred or not as long as the story is well written and the author has done their research (whether it be vicariously or hands on.) You don't have to have a menage with two hot men to be able to write a threesome scene (unfortunately). And obviously, the majority of the authors writing m/m romance are women so they definitely have never been a gay man. But I will get pulled out of a story, for instance, if characters do something that I know isn't possible or would cause injury in real life or whatever. So if you're going to write it, do your homework.
Though I will say, even in the best written stuff, I can still kind of tell the difference between the writers who are writing it solely from imagination and the ones who've tried a few things out themselves. Doesn't make one story better than the other, it's more just a *feel*. There's an extra edge, a grittiness, when someone is writing from an experienced perspective. Those are the books that when I finish I think--yep, I believe her. (Tiffany Reisz and Joey W. Hill come to mind.)
So what are your answers to my questions above? What do you assume about authors? Do you think you can tell when someone is writing from fantasy vs. experience? Does it matter to you? What has pulled you out of a story?