Friday, April 22, 2011

A Walk Down Memory Lane

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.


  1. My first foray into BDSM fiction came years ago with a paperback copy of 9 1/2 Weeks. I was fascinated, enthralled. I saw myself in Elizabeth. I remember being so upset that she left John. Actually, I still have that copy. It sits on my keeper shelf next to Carrie and As She's Told. Of course my next book was The Story of O and from there, I was completely hooked. After that, I read quite a few Nexus books.

    Like you, I discovered Ellora's Cave and those books were my gateway to a world where erotica and romance were combined. Sadly, I'm so much pickier about BDSM fiction than I used to be. I love books with a harder, more realistic edge, but that also tell a love story.

    Oh and again, me too with the bodice rippers! I loved Johanna Lindsey. I read every book I could get my hands on of hers when I was in my late teens.

  2. Please don't throw anything at me, but the first BDSM erotica I read was Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty series. I know, I know!! Many BDSM authors today cringe when that series is mentioned, but what can I say? Those were the first books I read that helped me make sense of my kinky fantasies. I read them in 1990, and I didn't pick up another BDSM-themed book for 18 years. Then, someone loaned me KING OF HEARTS by Cheyenne McCray. It was super light BDSM set in a fantasy world, but it made me think "why don't I read BDSM?? It's what I like!"

    So, from there I was hooked. Like Fallon, I moved on to NINE AND A HALF WEEKS. Wow. COMFORT OBJECT was incredible, and COMFORT FOOD really affected me too. There are so many I still need to read. Really, it's all I want to read, though that's not possible when trying to run a romance book blog too.

    I've always been a big fan of old-school historical romance and contemporary paranormal romance. Though not BDSM, those books gave me some power exchange and the alpha males I love. A HUNGER LIKE NO OTHER by Kresley Cole and Lora Leigh's Breeds series -- damn!! Hot stuff. *g*

    ~ Diana

  3. I think I started out with some magazines I managed to get hold of in my mid-teens. Apart from looking up stocks and whipping posts in the encyclopedia, that was the first time I managed to find something outside of my own head on the subject that I'd been ruminating about since earliest memory. I got hold of Story of O by 18 or so, and then my boyfriend lent me The Image by Jean de Berg. But none of it came up to my fantasies, really.

    Don't throw anything at ME, but romance isn't my thing (yeah, I'm kinda out of place here, but hey they invited me!). Ellora's Cave and Black Lace always looked too light. I think I read a few and gave up.

    Molly Weatherfield and Laura Antoniou, yes. Pat Califia, yes. Anything that feels like literature and has a hard edge is great stuff. Though if it's not M/f, I don't really come back to it.

  4. There will be no throwing things.

    I read two of the three Sleeping Beauty books. I don't think they are cringe worthy -- they aren't attempting to be realistic, they're just one person's fantasy, and I did get the feeling the author was trying to put it all out there, and I respect that. For that matter, I liked Exit to Eden, too.

    I get the feeling about romances too. They *are* usually lighter, and the restrictions "romance" places on a plot are sort of like the negotiation before a BDSM scene, where the sub gets to know how the whole scene is supposed to end before it starts.

  5. I read the three Beauty books by Anne Rice about 15 years ago. I even got one of them autographed by the great lady herself when she was touring Toronto. They are terrific books, very hot, but the lack of consensuality (is that a word?) is a huge problem with them. The characters are being abused.

    I saw the movie of the Story of O when I was in a relationship with a person I can only describe as very bossy. People actually thought we were in a BDSM relationship which surprised me because I never noticed just how controlling she was at the time.

    I am not sure how I started writing BDSM, I just know I have always had an interest in it. It is becoming more mainstream, if that's possible. More people know what it is and have explored it to some dgree.

    As long as it's consensual it's good.