Thursday, June 15, 2006

Susie talks about her first time

Do you remember your first time? I do.

I was in junior high. I’d always been ahead of the curve, reading books that were supposed to be too old for me. (What did you think I was talking about? First romance novel, people.) But I’d never read a true romance. At the risk of dating myself, they hadn’t been around all that long. Those were the glory days of Kathleen Woodiwiss and all who came after her.

I was in math class, and I was bored. Gee, what a shock. My very dear, and clearly more sophisticated friend, Merrill, tossed me a copy of THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER. I had no idea what I was getting in for, but I was hooked from the first line. From then on every time I went to replenish my book supply, the first things in the pile were big, fat (and in those days they were FAT) books with PASSION and WIND and SAVAGE in the title.

To their credit, my parents didn’t try to censor what I read. Yes, those books had SEX in them, but in truth they probably had the opposite of the effect that Mrs. Koslowski warned my mother about. After a steady diet of Damiens and Lucases, the dorky 14-year-old who sat next to me in choir and thought a fart was a mating call really didn’t have a whole lot of appeal.

I got away from my true love in college. For one thing, I was too busy reading things I was supposed to. Also, despite all things I loved about those first historical romances – notably the grand scale, and the fact that those characters got to trot all over the world to really exotic places – a steady diet of older, dominant heroes started to wear on me. Oh, I get that those really alpha men and the rape fantasies that went along with them were many women’s fantasies. But they weren’t really mine. Ands much variety as there was in plot and setting in those days, there wasn’t much in characters.

I didn’t come back to romance for almost ten years. But I live in Minnesota, and someone gave me a LaVyrle Spencer book. Oh, wow! This was new to me. Real people, men that weren’t necessarily rich and weren’t always domineering, but always heroic in the ways I saw around me every day.

I went on a binge, finding all those wonderful books that I’d missed. I discovered category fiction for the first time, Kathleen Korbel and Jennifer Greene and Rachel Lee and Elizabeth Lowell. Romantic suspense, and all the historicals I’d overlooked. For a year and a half or so, I read at least a book a day.

Then I started writing and it messed up my reading. But that’s another blog.

So . . . tell me about your first time.



Susan Kay Law said...

Sigh. I thought there was a cover of THE FLAME AND THE FLOWER there.

Bear with me. This is my first time, too.


Helen Brenna said...

Boy, does this bring back summertime memories!

I discovered Harlequins, Ann Mather, etc... during the summer between seventh and eighth grade. I went to the library every week, bringing home as many as I could carry and staying up into the wee hours reading. I still remember the smell of that old library and how the stone steps were worn down from decades of use.

After I'd devoured every Harlequin my small town library had to offer, I went for the bigger books. For some reason I didn't discover Kathleen Woodiwiss until after college. My first big romance was entitled FAUNA, and I have no clue who wrote it, only that it was the steamy, sexiest thing I'd ever read.

The heroine was sold into slavery, but the story was emblazoned on my immature little heart.

Thank goodness I've moved on and so have heroines!

anne frasier said...

i can't believe i never read the flame and the flower. i think the first book i read that i was probably reading for the romance was betty zane. later i moved on to frank yerby books. devoured those things. much, much later it was tom and sharon curtis and some of the spencer books. jennifer greene was also a favorite. i remember when loveswept started they had so many good writers. pretty amazing when you think of all the writers who came out of there.

Carolyn Nichols was really on when she started that line.

anne frasier said...

how's that, susie?

not sure that's the cover you chose, but i think it works. i think that book has had at least 3 different covers. maybe more.

naomi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
naomi said...

***oops, double post***

My first romance novel was a Harlequin back in, oh, 4th grade. I was reading way above grade level, had already chewed on some classics and found a stash of these shorter books in mom's closet. They were great stories about relatively normal people who fell in love, worked through issues and stayed together. I devoured them.

Then I found a copy of Bertrice Small's Unconquered. Wow. That was in about grade 5. I was sick and mom had a T.V. in her room. She let me rest there and I was bored with General Hospital (I think Anna had just returned back from the dead or something like that) so I reached under the bed where mom kept her books and found this huge trade paperback with this riske cover. I just had to read it.

Of course, mom had a little bit of a cow when she saw me reading her "naughty" book. If only she knew what naughty stories I would get myself into...hehe. Still, it was a bonding experience and opened up various genres for me at an early age. And in a way, gave me and mom a foundation that carried us through the evil teen years.

Helen Brenna said...

Speaking of mother's closets. Anyone remember Coffee, Tea, or Me?

anne said...

that sounded vaguely familiar, but i had to google it. seems like sexy stewardess books were popular back then. :D it was reissued in 2002.

Susan Kay Law said...

Anne, you're a genius! I'm impressed.