Like Giselle, I’m currently on vacation, in my case in the White Mountains of NH where I have a cabin, and very slow dial-up internet access. The books around me tend to be trail guides and histories of women climbers and that sort of thing, but I also see Black Beauty and Tom Swift: Young Inventor and Brighty of the Grand Canyon (Brighty is a mule, as one might expect from Marguerite Henry, who also wrote Misty of Chincoteague.) If you think this sounds as though I have someone young here with me, you’d be guessing right. My seven-year-old granddaughter has her nose in a book much of the time, but she’s also enjoying playing/swimming in mountain streams and riding the Alpine Express with her father at the local ski resort, along with its other summertime offerings that mainly involve one kind of high-tech bouncing device or another.
All of which makes me nostalgic for the books of my childhood, and somewhat amused to recall the books of my adolescence. Horse stories, certainly, and dog stories, and what there was for strong girl stories; Little Women, Harriet the Detective, Nancy Drew (and every boy scout adventure book in the library, because there weren’t any equivalents for girls.) And nurse romances, and National Velvet, and the British Theatre Shoes, Skating Shoes, etc. series, moving along to Jane Austen and her less literary follower Georgette Heyer. By the time I was 14 or so, though, I was reading historical dramas with plenty of sex (for the times,) Horatio Hornblower, and Mika Waltari’s Egyptian-themed books, among others.
I worked shelving books and sweeping floors at our small local library, and had access to everything. The librarian was the wife of our church’s Minister, but broadminded; one day she called me aside to say that she knew my mother didn’t mind if I read from the adult section, but the mother of one of my friends had complained because I was bookmarking the spicier passages for my friends (who would never make it through the complete books.) That taught me a lesson, and when I found a real gem in the Hospital Guild Thrift Shop, The Sheik by Ethel M. Dell, I didn’t share it. The book was old by then—I’m old, but not old enough to remember the Rudolph Valentino movie version—but with the same sort of impact I imagine 50 Shades of Gray has today, with the added benefit of wild adventure. Not explicit sex by modern standards, but my imagination was quite equal to the challenge of extrapolation.
Eventually the bodice-ripper genre came along. Kathleen Woodiwiss was a pioneer there. Historical flamboyance and storms of lust. I vowed that I’d never bother with sexless romances again. Then by college I’d discovered Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Fanny Hill. I knew I was going to be an erotica author someday. A friend and I trying sending stories to men’s magazines, with no luck--my rejection was fairly positive, but said I made the male protagonist look like too much of a sexist pig, which I’d thought was just what they wanted.
“Someday” turned out to take a long time coming. Procrastination and raising a family got in the way. I finally started out with science fiction and fantasy, and about the time I saw opportunities for publishing erotica I’d begun selling a few stories to anthologies for kids, and thought that might be the main way I’d go, so I used a pseudonym for the sexy stuff—which then pretty much took over. I keep thinking that now that my granddaughter is such a voracious reader, I should get back to writing for kids and YA, but it hasn’t happened yet.
As to what I’ve been reading lately, well, I have to admit that most of my reading (aside from social media) has been of books I’m supposed to review for the Erotica Revealed website, or have been asked to review or blurb by their authors, or am reading as research for stories. It’s been interesting sometimes going outside my comfort zone while still acknowledging the different parameters of some other readers’ comfort zones—not a good way to put it, though; to paraphrase the song, “What’s comfort got to do with it?”
Back to the present moment. It’s about time to go out for ice cream, as I promised the not-so-little imp princess. She’s up to my chin now, at seven! Better get moving writing stories her mother will let her read.