Are erotica authors born, or made? After a lifetime of reading sex-drenched novels, I finally took the plunge two years ago and published one of my own. Now, five steamy (and occasionally raunchy) “Logan Belle” novels later, I’m still thinking about the books that started it all: the juicy, passionate, explicit, heart-stopping novels of my youth that made me hide my books under my bed and set my imagination (and other parts of me) on fire.
As a pre-teen, I devoured any book with even a hint of sex. I think the first “erotic” scene I ever read was in Judy Blume’s Deenie, in which the heroine Deenie was hooking up with her crush Buddy Brader and he tried to feel her up but she was wearing a back brace. A shockingly short time later, I read D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley’s Lover—easy to sneak past the parental censors because of the classic-looking cover. Emboldened and hungry for more, I progressed to Jackie Collins’s Chances. I swapped the jacket cover featuring the photo of the vampy brunette for something innocuous. Well-worth the subterfuge: the sex scenes were scorching hot. Those first “erotic” novels are unforgettable—imprinted in my head like nothing that has followed. I recently asked fellow romance and erotica authors if they remember their first erotic read. The answer was, of course, emphatically “yes!”
Stephanie Draven (It Stings So Sweet): “My first erotic novel was the Story of O, which captivated me with its beautiful prose and strange, seductive, foreign sexuality. Alas, when I reached the end and learned that O was to be abandoned by her lover after having transformed herself into everything he desired, I threw the book across the room and wept. Maybe this is why all my erotic novels have happy endings.”
Megan Hart (Switch, Dirty, Naked): “The first erotic novel I can recall reading knowing that it was “erotic” would be 9 1/2 Weeks. Love that book. To this day, I love that book!”
Kelli Maine (Taken series): “The first erotic novel I read was called She, but I can't remember who the author was. It was included in a giveaway basket of books at the Central Ohio Fiction Writer's Conference in 2007. I was hesitant to read it. It felt like a dirty little secret, like I should hide it under my bed. Since then, I've come to love the honest, frank, openness in the genre. Sex isn't dirty and doesn't need to be a secret.”
Suleikha Snyder (Spice and Secrets) “I started reading romance novels when I was 11-12, like most romance writers and fans, and I was also pretty scandalized by Ashton's exploits with several West Point cadets in John Jakes's North and South. (Hey, it was about the Civil War...clearly appropriate for a 6th grader, right? But I digress...) Still, I didn't discover bona fide erotic literature until Delta of Venus, by Anais Nin. What's funniest about this is that I found it in my high school library. I have no idea what it was doing there, but I'm certainly grateful! Nin's writing was breathtakingly sensual and evocative—as well as extremely titillating. It opened up a whole new world to me...as libraries do for so many readers across the world!”
Tiffany Reisz (The Siren/ The Original Sinners series) “When I was in the 7th grade, my mother received a box of Harlequin Presents romance novels. The Sheik's Revenge by Emma Darcy was my favorite of the books in the box (I still have my copy). The female lead character loses her virginity in a fairly non-consensual act at age 27 to the sheik who kidnaps her after her brother runs away with his bride. She attacks him with a knife. He bangs her into submission. And now twenty years later I'm writing even more spectacularly un-politically correct books and for none other than Harlequin (Mira Books).”
Jennifer L. Hart: (Daisy Dominatrix) “Probably Standing in the Shadows by Shannon McKenna. It wasn't actually billed as erotic because it's a Brava title, but that was prior to the launch of Aphrodisia, and the ebook revolution. Made erotica a little harder to come by. That book made me plenty hot under the collar, the longing, the detail, the heartbreak, the mindfuck, it's just truly an orgasmic story.”
Isabelle Drake (Dare Me, Now or Never) “The first erotic novel I read was Wild Jasmine by Bertrice Small. It was the first time I realized what a skilled writer can accomplish by intertwining the the romantic conflict and sensual tension.
Kristina Wright (Duty and Desire: Military Erotica for Women, Best Erotic Romance 2012) “I was first introduced to erotica via the bookstore's “Anonymous” section. When I was in high school, I would literally browse the bookstore A to Z and was curious about these books written by anonymous authors. Most of them were classic Victorian erotica and the language was often euphemistic or unfamiliar. I discovered Henry Miller, Pauline Reage (the Story of O) and the Beauty trilogy by Anne Rampling (Anne Rice) all around the same time—a bevy of books of varying styles and quality, which started the canon of erotica literature that became the foundation for my own writing.”
So what was the first novel that got your heart beating fast? The book that taught you a little more than you bargained for—with dog-eared pages that had to be kept far from the prying eyes of parents and siblings? Share the love. We promise not to tell!
Jamie Brenner has been reading erotic novels longer than she would admit to anyone but Heroes & Heartbreakers. Writing under the pen name Logan Belle, she is the author of Miss Chatterley (Pocket Star/Simon and Schuster), a modern re-telling of the classic erotic tale Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. Under her own name, she published The Gin Lovers (St. Martin’s Press), a historical drama set in 1920s New York City. For more, visit www.jamiebrenner.com or follow @JamieLBrenner.