Anneke’s recent post about Carrie’s Story reminded me of the books I read when I was first discovering BDSM. They mostly aren’t the books I’d pick out now, but I can still remember the intensity of them. Pat Califia’s Macho Sluts. Laura Antoniou’s Marketplace books, and her collection No Other Tribute. Mr. Benson, by John Preston. Susie Bright was editing the Best American Erotica series and Masquerade Books Inc was printing huge amounts of erotica of widely varying quality, some of it very literary. It seemed like a preponderance of the best stuff was being written by GLBT authors, and even though the orientations weren’t mine the emotions were real and the sex incredibly hot. And none of it, at least none that I was aware of, was being marketed as romance.
By the time Masquerade Books folded around 1999, there were other places to get my erotic reading from. Cecilia Tan’s Circlet Press was publishing lovely anthologies. I was collecting lots of rejection notices; frustratingly, my first acceptance letter was for an anthology of BDSM stories to be printed by Masquerade, and that anthology died with the publisher.
Black Lace books, a line of erotica for and by women, overlapped the Masquerade era. No publisher ever received as much buyer loyalty from me as Black Lace did in the late 90’s. A friend of mine was buying them too, and we would swap them at work. Some of them were romances, and some weren’t, I guess, but they weren’t marketed that way. She also convinced me to read a Johanna Lindsey book. The first one I read was a bodice ripper of a kind that was on its last legs, one of those with the “rape until she likes it” kind of plots. But wow -- romance could be sexy, and involve power imbalance that was a lot sexier than those old Harlequins that always featured a nurse and a doctor.
Then, a few years later, Ellora’s Cave had a booth at a Science Fiction convention I was going to with my family, and I found the world of erotic romance, and BDSM romance. I decided that was what I wanted to write, and now I do.
I’m curious as to where some of the readers of this blog first discovered BDSM literature, and what made you decide that was something you wanted to keep reading.