Friday, March 7, 2008

Do You Remember the First Time?

By Mathilde Madden

Black Lace is 15 years old. To celebrate the big wigs at HQ have given us two super dooper goodie bags each containing copies of the two Black Lace novels out this month: a reprint of the first ever Black Lace - Cassandra's Conflict by Fredrica Alleyn and our own Madelynne Ellis's storming Phantasmagoria. Plus numerous other special Black Lace goodies.

What do you have to do to be in with a chance of grabbing the goodies? Simple. Tell me about the first Black Lace book you ever read. And to get you in the mood, I asked a few friends to tell me how they lost their Black Lace virginities.

Let's start with someone who's work is at the forefront of the celebrations. Our own Madelynne Ellis:
"My first brush with Black Lace was back in 1996. I´d been working my way through the local bookstall´s collection of Victorian erotica eg The Pearl, and there were some Black Lace books mixed in amongst it.

The first one I read was Ace of Hearts by Lisette Allen. It´s a Regency set historical featuring rather a lot of fencing and a fight over an inheritance. Its most memorable scene is near the start where the heroine, having come off her horse, is tied to a heavy saddle in the middle of a field by the hero and roughly taken from behind.

I guess it made an impression as I sent off for the Black Lace writing guidelines shortly afterwards.

I´m not going to tell you how many of them I´ve now read. Let just say it´s a lot."

Next up, Anne Tourney:
"There are so many classics I recall, but the two that had the most impact on me creatively -- the novels that opened up a world of possibilities for combining an honest portrayal of sexuality with the exploration of the author's imagination -- were Artistic License, by Vivienne LaFay and Gothic Blue, by Portia Da Costa.

I had been writing erotic short fiction for a few years when I first found the Black Lace series, but it had always been my dream to write erotic novels. Discovering these two books, both written from a thoroughly feminine perspective, with vividly atmospheric settings, compelling plots, and characters I could identify with and care about (oh, and did I forget to mention the hot sex?) was revolutionary to me.

Artistic License is a historical novel about a young woman in Renaissance Italy who poses as a boy so she can fulfill her dream of being an artist.

Gothic Blue, of course, is the erotic classic by our own Portia Da Costa, a story of supernatural machinations in an eerie castle, with a sexual obsession that crosses the boundaries of time. They're both incredible novels which deserve to be in print for years to come."

And here's Teresa Noelle Robert's confession:
"I think the first one I ever read was The Crimson Buccaneer by Cleo Cordell - a historical lavishly laden with flagellation and d/s, which made me forgive some lapses in the history - which I bought at the airport.

I confess I bought it because I was so pleased to see obvious erotica on the shelf, albeit the top shelf where I had to stretch, in an airport bookstore."

When I told Kristina Lloyd (gone but not forgotten) what I was doing - she was keen to add her first time with Odalisque by Fleur Reynolds:
"Odalisque was published in 1994, back when there were only two types of BL books: historicals and posh contemporaries. This is a Posh, steeped in that godawful cold, aspirational, 80s aesthetic. It’s all glamour, wealth, chauffeurs and unpleasant, bossy women. This was so removed from my life I could’ve been reading about aliens.

However, chapter 2 is a wild, gratuitous, 20-page long, MFM and for that I adore it. As far as I can remember, two of the characters don't even appear in the book again but who cares? The scene feels like it’s about to burst out of the pages and reading it felt like hearing from a woman who’d finally been allowed to speak. And she was saying stuff like: ‘
If you lie on the desk,’ said Kit to Gerry, ‘this dirty bitch can suck your cock while I’m screwing her arse.’


God, Kristina's really changed, hasn't she?

One person we can always rely on for an opinion at Lust Bites is Janine Ashbless. I had to ask her how she popped her BL cherry:
"My first Black Lace was Avalon Nights by Sophie Danson (which was actually originally published by Nexus, as Knights of Pleasure). It was given to me by my friend Chris and it's not an exaggeration to say that it changed my life.

It's a collection of tales told by various Knights of the Round Table, strung together (just about) by a story-arc. Each individual knight has their own kink so there are stories themed around male dom, femdom, lesbianism, big dick romps, BDSM etc - and a very naughty bit involving a horse. I thought it was great - and it inspired me to write down my own fantasy stories and submit them as Cruel Enchantment. And so Janine Ashbless was born...

I've still got the book. It has one of those classy old sepia-tinted covers that I still think are the best Black Lace ever did. And the very first line is "It was a stormy night." Which, frankly, requires balls of brass to get away with!"

And for some final recommendations from the early days, I tracked down AWOL Lustie, Alison Tyler:
"15 years. It’s a long time. It’s as long as I’ve been professionally writing porn. Which is why I can’t remember what my first Black Lace book was. I mean, I have read so many of them, dog-eared the pages, rumpled the covers, dropped them into the bubble bath. But thinking back, my virgin Virgin title was probably Kerri Sharp’s collection of women’s fantasies, which I remember adoring and passing onto a friend, and then having to buy again.

Much better, I remember my last Black Lace read—Mathilde Madden’s intense and amazing
The Silver Collar—which I also adored and lent to a friend and had to buy again.

You’d think after 15 years, I would have learned something, if only this: never lend your favorite porn. Happy Birthday, Black Lace!"

Ah, you wouldn't believe how much it cost me to get her to say that. Our much-missed trollop might look cheap, but she drives a hard bargain.

So tell me about your first time. How was it?

Mat x


Dayle A. Dermatis said...

Confession: I'd never read a Black Lace book before I was contracted to write one. Despite the fact that I'd lived in Britain and bought erotic novels there, for some reason a Black Lace never fell into my hands.

Teresa and I (as Sophie Mouette) had submitted a story for Sex at the Sports Club, and the response was not only a sale, but a note from the editor saying she'd never worked with coauthors before but we wrote beautifully together, and had we ever considered writing a novel because she had a hole in her schedule?

The only correct answer to that is "Yes, ma'am." Of course, when she gave us the timeframe, we gulped loudly.

At that point, we had to read some of these lovely novels, so we each ordered some that looked interesting (plus I had some UK friends visiting and they kindly brought me some). I can't say which one I read first, and truthfully, I skimmed the stack because I was so busy writing, I didn't have time to read any cover-to-cover. And since Teresa and I then swapped books, I don’t even have them on hand to check.

So I guess the first Black Lace I ever read was our own, Cat Scratch Fever!

Olivia Knight said...

Slightly alarmed that Janine apparently gave birth to herself through a series of fictious sexual acts. I'm sure there's a Greek myth that reflects such an experience exactly, but all I can think of is the women who were plucked full grown from their father's thighs / foreheads / etc.

I started writing for Black Lace before I read any, too. (Newbies out there: we don't advise this! And we read the guidelines REALLY REALLY carefully!) I'd found Nexus (ironic, given my non-fetish for BDSM) but for some reason the dirty smutty shops I frequented in Soho weren't stocked up on Black Lace at the time. Perhaps all the scary men in macs had snapped them up already.

My first, though, was Lisette Allen's Amulet, which was great fun, closely followed by Cruel Enchantment (by my evil twin - and boy is this woman evil. How come my characters can't shag trees when hers shag the dead? Ah well, never mind...)

kristina lloyd said...

Ah, Cleo Cordell, yes!

I read a lot of her stuff in the olden days and in 1997, just after I'd signed my first BL contract, I met Cleo and Kerri Sharp, the editor at the time. It was at a Regency romance spoken word event and they were both reading. I sat and drank awestruck beer with them and thought, Wow, I'm an author at last!

They were also both wearing corsets and I vaguely wondered if I'd ever wear a corset. I thought maybe it was compulsory if you dealt in erotic fiction - but I've since met Adam Neville and I know that's not true.

Great post! My, haven't we grown?

Janine Ashbless said...

My overwhelming memory of that first book is the joy at at knowing that the stuff knocking around in my head was actually the kind of thing that could be written down for people to read. I'd honestly never considered the possibility before.

Portia Da Costa said...

I can't remember the first one exactly, because it was way back in 1993 when the four launch titles were originally released. I was writing for Nexus at the time, but nobody at Virgin Towers bothered to tell me they were starting an imprint for women, so when a friend mentioned it in passing, I had to race out and get the first four Black Laces to see what they were like.

Bought 'em. Read 'em. Decided I could do as well or better... and wrote Gemini Heat. Which is due out in reprint in April [May US]... on the same day as Gothic Heat, my twelfth title.

ps. I once stayed at Cleo Cordell's house, after a party. She didn't make me wear a corset though...

Portia Da Costa said...

ps. forgot to say thanks to Anne for her kind words about Gothic Blue, still a favourite of mine.

It was meant to be about vampires, but Kerri said vampire erotica was a cliche and had been over-done.

This was 1996, I believe... LOL

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

Good post.

Kristina, you almost caused me to spout granola and blueberries at my monitor at the image of Adam in a corset.

Mind you, I like a little gender-bending on an attractive man, so it's not an unpleasant thought--just an incongruous one.

Jeremy Edwards said...

I was basically introduced to BL by ... the Lust Bites blog! (Prior to that, though I'd seen BL books in stores, I'd never read one.) I was led to LB by writers I already admired—Germain, Magennis, Masters, & Tyler— and here found the rest of you admirable authors.

My favorite erotic reading is the short-form stuff, and I've found so many stories to savor in the BL collections.

t'Sade said...

I remember it when I opened the envelope to stare at the Japanese letters for Divine Torment. Underneath was the English version too, held in my shaking, excited hand. It was... oh, so long ago. At least four or five months ago, and I remember it like it was last year. The second time I ever won something in a "comment to win" posting. Naturally, I wanted the Japanese version which I can't read, but I love to just page through and try to remember what little Japanese I do know. But, I got the English version as a thank you.

It was a tiny little book, as new as I was to reading. As I paged through it... sex, oh, got to read that, I realized that it was a gift and a wonderful one at that.

It was that exact moment, standing in my office in bare feet and a t-shirt (and not much else), that I decided that I should honor it. I didn't have much to give besides giving opinions and trying to increase the coverage so I did the one thing I could think of: I read it and write up my opinions. A little review for my tiny little forum of only four hundred or so members. Only half a hundred read it so far, but it was more than before.

It was a wonderful gift of Ms. Ashbless and I only hoped I gave it honor.

It was also the point I decided that I'd review every book I got for free until someone told me to shut the hell up. :)

Janine Ashbless said...

t'Sade, I'm blushing.
Thank you.

tls said...

I think the first Black Lace I ever read was Animal Passions by Martine Marquand. Haven't seen a book quite like that since.

Alison Tyler said...

I'm commenting about one of Mat's tags. "Back in the day." I love that. One of my best friends uses that comment all the time—although her "back in the day," refers to the times she went to Studio 54 and was a runway model. My "back in the days" are decidedly different.

Which is also the best thing about Black Lace, I think. Look at how different we all are. I don't think you could put together a more varied group of writers if you tried!


Kate Pearce said...

I can't remember the name of the first Black Lace book I read, because I was hiding in the cupboard under the stairs reading it in the dark with a torch. I do remember that:

a)I was way too young to be reading it (I have 3 older sisters and I'd um 'liberated' the book from my oldest sister's bag)

b) It was a historical and it was filthy and exciting and turned me on even though I was, as mentioned, way too young to be reading it.

But for me too it was a liberating experience-that other people acted and felt like that and some actually got to write it down. I think even then I knew what I'd end up writing...

Happy Birthday Black Lace-you pioneer you!

ilona said...

Happy Birthday Black Lace.

My first black lace book was actually found at a second hand book stall. I can't remember the title exactly but it had the term stockings in it :D

My husband and I read it and were both hooked on the excellent presentation and style of the book and have added to the collection over the years.

We love the way there are erotic elements but always a good story too. Much better than letters in mens magazines ;)

Dayle A. Dermatis said...

"I started writing for Black Lace before I read any, too. (Newbies out there: we don't advise this! And we read the guidelines REALLY REALLY carefully!)"

Nope, I definitely don't advise writing for BL before you read some--but at the same time, make sure you read some current ones. Most of the ones Teresa and I bought were at least a year old, some more, and the style had changed dramatically.

So, yah, read the guidelines, read current books, and you know we're always here to answer questions. :-)

Lisa said...

Happy Birthday Black Lace!

My first BL was about two years favorite little second-hand bookshop started carrying them. I don't remember the title, but I do remember the book was pink-and-purple-colored. I picked it up from the little spinning book rack and sat down with it, intending only to skim a couple of pages while the girls up front tallied my trade-in credits. I enjoyed it so much, I sort of forgot where I was and ended up reading two-thirds of the book before I came to my senses. I bought it, of course, and ended up losing it later to a neglectful borrower.

Janine Ashbless said...

So Mat... It's your post. What about you?

Julie Hurwitz said...

I've read so many and for so long that I can't remember the very first one.

But one of the ones that still sticks with me after all these years is Emma Holly's "Menage." It was one of the first menage books I'd ever read and I loved that all three participants were given equal relationship time. I'm still striving to write something half as good.


Madelynne Ellis said...

My fave is still Lord Wraxall's Fancy. It was one of the first ones I read. Wraxall is such an utter sod, but he oozes style...

Triste said...

I was first introduced to Black Lace, through the wonderful bloggings of Lust Bites. My first book was Dark Designs by Madelynne Ellis. I loved it, and cannot wait for the US releases of A Gentleman's Wager and Phantasmagoria. Happy Birthday Black Lace! Without you, I'd be hopelessly lost.

littlelamblst said...

This is my second attempt to comment so sorry if it comes as a double post.

My first was Menage by Emma Holly. I had heard about it from a friend. It was fabulous and opened a whole new world to me.

Saskia Walker said...

15 years! Can hardly believe it, but yes, on the other hand.. :) My first two books from BL were bought in 1995, I think. (I have to figure where I was living at the time) Couldn't decide between them so bought them both. Cleo Cordell's Path of the Tiger, a lushly told Raj story with its roots in the Kama Sutra, and Angel Strand's La Basquaise, a book I still hold as one of my favourite BL novels, a decadent between-wars European set story. I still have those first two buys, and the many I have bought in between.

Anne Tourney said...

I still remember the days when majority of the erotic novels you could find at the bookstores were authored by the same person: Anonymous. And most of that fiction felt anonymous, too. What set Black Lace apart for me was the fact that its authors had individual voices, identities, obsessions, and all of those came through in their words.

Adam in a corset? Huh.

You know, if any male erotica editor could pull it off, I think he probably could.

Portia Da Costa said...

Lisa, the pink and purple cover might have been my ENTERTAINING MR STONE!

Madeline Moore said...

Happy Birthday Black Lace! And may you have many, many more.
xoxo Madeline

mina murray said...

Like Julie and littlelamblst, my first BL was Menage too. I read every one I could get my hands on after that, and have developed quite a collection over the years.

For some reason, they're more difficult to find in Australia - we usually get new releases months after they've come out in the UK or the US (I still haven't seen Love on the Dark side in bookstores here, for example). That's the price one pays for living in the Antipodes, i guess. So all I can say is thank the goddess for Amazon!

limecello said...

Wow - Happy Birthday, Black Lace. 15 years is very impressive.
I have a confession to make - I've never read a Black Lace book - at least, I don't think I have. I just recently heard about Black Lace recently (as in, a few days ago.) I'm definitely going to look for it though, now that I know about it.

Sabrina Luna said...

My first BL title (which I still have them all) was Pandora's Box 2 (which includes a snippet of Gothic Blue & other BL authors). ;)

Hugs & Happy Anniversary BL --
Sabrina )O(

rlr260 said...

I first found Black Lace when I bought an anthology titled "Modern Love." It had an excerpt from Cassandra's Conflict among the stories. I began reading erotica after having read Nancy Friday's collections of female fantasies. I thought they were so hot, and I wanted to read more! I started to check the sexuality sections at my local bookstores, and then found erotic anthologies in the fiction and literature sections. It was there I found a lot of Alison Tyler's collections. I have noticed that those sexy areas of the bookstore have gone from a one-shelf afterthought, to a more extensive selection spread over multiple shelves! I can nearly always find Black Lace novels, now, along with anthologies with Lust Bite authors represented! Congratulations, ladies, and keep up the good work!