If you don't care about erotic genre fiction, then probably you won't care that yesterday marked for many of us the end of the New British Invasion.


Which is to say, Adam Nevill, erotica editor of London's Virgin Books' Black Lace (BL) and Nexus imprints became "redundant."

Such a polite and utterly British way of noting that as Virgin owners Random House UK concentrates on "prioritising [their] rapidly expanding non-fiction list" and shuts down BL/Nexus, Nevill -- whose seemingly innate ability to procure then nurture ridiculously talented authors and facilitate their creating top-shelf works of wickedly erotic novels -- "doesn't work here anymore."


But why should you care whether Nevill edits Black Lace/Nexus any more than you do whether the imprints exist at all?  First, Black Lace and Nexus titles'll be published through February 2010, and backlist remains available for these lovely naughty bits of sexy fun that took America by storm back in '06 and since 1993 influenced significantly the way fine stateside erom's created.  


And next: Because under Nevill's and his team's direction, BL/Nexus authors provided readers some of the most exceptional erom and erotica published.  Vanguard, and occasionally even deliciously uncomfortable to read because of the nature of their intimacy, the books allow women not only to embrace their sexual fantasies, but also to explore those they perhaps didn't realize they'd had.

Yet Nevill doesn't see himself as driving force behind Black Lace/Nexus' success among readers and critics, rather points to the authors and imprint itself.  "I cherry picked the best writers, the best submissions, and what seemed to be the most honest and authentic writing," he says.


And what seems such a simple philosophy worked.  From early on, Black Lace, says Nevill, "was a phenomenon, selling over 5 million books and going into 21 languages.  It had a huge impact on liberating the female imagination and exploring what had been predominantly taboo imaginative expressions."

Part of what makes Black Lace popular with fans of erotic genre fiction is the availability of themes that appeal to contemporary readers, ones often they can't find even in traditional erotic- and sensual romance.  In a 2006 post at Romance: B(u)y the Book blog, Nevill writes:


Sometimes these [Black Lace] stories explore a female character's fantasy life, her inner life and quest for experience, and her goal isn't to find Mr Right and she may not end up ‘happy ever after' with dream man, but will nonetheless be wiser, stronger, confirmed, liberated by the end.

While Nevill moves on from his post at Virgin Books to a 2-book deal with Pan Macmillan - his "Banquet for the Damned" is considered something of a supernatural horror classic - it's clear his tenure at Virgin Books was about the colleagues and the creative. States Nevill, "Commissioning the work of so many talented authors and artists, innovating the direction of the lists and their design, and managing a huge critical path for so many titles has been immensely satisfying."


Obviously, Nevill's not the only one becoming redundant as Black Lace/Nexus close shop.  Authors have lost contracts; some

yet-to-be-published authors whose loss seems particularly unfair won't see their first novels in print at Virgin. 


Yet if American houses are wise, they'll keep an eye out for the bright, brash "young" talent - and the established wordsmiths who've caught Nevill's keen notice. 

 

For as I like to say, one editor's lovely naughty bits are another editor's treasure.

How do you feel about erotic romance and erotica?  What are  some of your fave titles/authors? How are you feeling about the demise of Black Lace/Nexus?  What do you feel, if anything, is the difference in flavor between British and American erom/erotica?

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Message Edited by Michelle_Buonfiglio on 08-14-2009 11:26 AM
Comments
by amyskf on ‎07-24-2009 09:16 AM
What a loss, for all of us, whether you read erotica/erom or not,  it's a loss of creativity.
by Moderator dhaupt on ‎07-24-2009 09:26 AM
I have never read erotica maybe some one could give me a hint on some soft erotica to start out with to see if I'd like it. I don't know if my air conditioner could handle the extra heat though.
by Moderator becke_davis on ‎07-24-2009 10:16 AM

The first ones I read, before I understood the genre (and, these days, it's still sometimes hard to tell where the line between hot romance and mild erotica is drawn), I discovered authors like Lora Leigh and Shannon McKenna. I still like those two, and you might also try Sarah McCarty to get you started. Forget hot flashes, Debbie, you'll feel as if you're reading these in a steam bath!

 

I always find it sad when publishers go out of business or drop lines, but maybe this isn't a sign of a lack of sales. It seems to me they are only "redundant" because so many publishers have picked up the slack on this side of the Atlantic, so now Black Lace isn't unique. Baby boomers seem to like hot romance (well, you all know I do), so what used to be sold in brown paper wrappers is now mainstream.

 

This is NOT the same as porn, although plenty of people argue that it is. This is why it isn't: at National, I was brought to tears by a woman who writes erotic romance. She explained that she was raped as a teenager, and by writing erotic romance she was finally reclaiming her sexuality. It's about sexual freedom, and whether you like/read erotic romance or not, I know this author is not the only one who writes as a way of celebrating her freedom and her sexuality. But it is still romance, of course, and that's as important as the heat.

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎07-24-2009 10:38 AM
Thanks for the suggestions Becke and I too am an almost Baby Boomer who enjoys Sizzling Romance so maybe I read erotica and don't know it.
by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎07-24-2009 10:53 AM

dhaupt, you wrote: maybe I read erotica and don't know it.  You most probably read something akin to 'erotic romance,' but one publisher's erom is another's sensual romance is another's erotica.  One of the problems with the Great Erom Rush of a few years ago was that lots of publishers started buying 'hot' and developing 'hot' imprints, then almost, it seemed, haphazardly slapped tems 'erotica' and erotic romance indiscriminately.  It confused lots of readers, but lots of us knew it'd take some time for pubs to get a foothold on delineating erom from erotica from sensual. 

 

Why's that so important when so many believe sub-genre and genre lines should just be allowed to blur? Cause sensuality levels are almost sacred for many readers, and they really want to know what they're getting.  And they don't allow for a lot of leeway in that area.  So if folks who like it hot but not raw (as in hot w/monogamous per erotic romance) got erotica (perhaps multi-partners and scenarios driven by emotions other than mutual satisfaction or, perhaps need for humiliation or to be humiliated, for example), well you can imagine the sense of shock or betrayal on the part of the consumer.

Now, even in "mass market" (paperback), we're seeing lots of lines pushed depending upon the publisher. And some of that could be because of the baby boomer demo and the youngest demos are more comfortable with hotter, more experimental/less vanilla sex between the monogamous couple in their 'traditional' love story.  I find that interesting and exciting, but, again, for the sake of the reader and the author who wants her books marketed to the correct audience, I love to see consistency and forethought onthe part of publishers.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎07-24-2009 10:56 AM
That was a moving moment, becke. And  romance fiction, especially erotic romance, has allowed many women to reclaim or simply embrace their sexualities.  Survivors of abuse, women from sexually repressed backgrounds or women who simply want to explore and become more knowledgeble about themselves and sexuality in general share often how reading all kinds of romance has changed their lives. This is powerful stuff.

Exactly, Amy, on all counts. 
by Moderator dhaupt on ‎07-24-2009 11:20 AM

Wow, see I didn't know I needed help in delineating all the sub genres and the sub heat levels of romance. And I think I have been reading some sort of erotic and thanks to Becke I've ordered one of the authors that she's suggested. I like hot hot hot love scenes but only between a monogamous couple so what exactly is that called?

Maybe you should offer classes, hmmm yeah and maybe we could get say male models to stand in for the um male characters.    ;-) 

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎07-24-2009 11:25 AM

Debbie - Shannon McKenna has a new book coming out -- I haven't read the ARC but Romantic Times gave it a great review. I've read her previous series, and those were really good -- lots of suspense. Each book stands alone but the characters are connected. It helps to read them in order.

 

 Lora Leigh has several series, and the Breeds are hugely popular. They used to be sold as erotica; now they're mass market paperbacks. It helps to start at or toward the beginning, but it's not absolutely necessary. I like her Navy Seals series, with WILD HEART being my favorite so far.

 

Sarah McCarty has a series, too, but I read those out of order and didn't have a problem with it. Search any of these author names on the Romantic Reads board and you can see what others had to say about these authors. There are plenty of others, too -- these were just the first ones that came to my mind. 

 

 

by Author MonicaBurns on ‎07-24-2009 11:42 AM
It's always sad to see a publisher go away, and BL was the leader, just like EC, when it came to erotic romance. The subgenre DOES make for a freeing experience for women, and it allows for an open discussion of sexuality, something Michelle is ALWAYS excellent of stimulating. I remember your first meeting of Neville, Michelle. I believe it was at RWA Atlanta in 2005. I remember you raving about him and his openness to the subgenre. Not just openness but his exuberance for erotic romance. I think he'll find a home elsewhere, where he'll continue his support of romance in general. Good people like him, don't get lost in the crowd.
by Author PortiaDaCosta on ‎07-24-2009 12:16 PM

I shall miss writing for Black Lace. It's been a huge part of my writing life, and I've really enjoyed working with Adam and with Kerri Sharp, the first Black Lace editor, who taught me an enormous amount when I first started writing for the line, way back. I've written both erotica and erotic romance for Black Lace, and probably quite a bit that floats somewhere in the middle. Romantic erotica, maybe? I just know I had lots of fun with it! :smileyhappy:

 

I'm sad to say goodbye... but I'm looking forward to new challenges, empowered by my experiences with Black Lace.

by Author Kate4queen on ‎07-24-2009 01:52 PM
Adam Nevill was the first editor totrust me to write a real print book and he gave me some great editorial advice along the way. I enjoyed working with him and the Black Lace/Cheek lines for whom I wrote a couple of short stories and 3 cowboy books. I'll miss BL and their wonderful authors :smileysad:
by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎07-24-2009 03:58 PM
So many of us will miss having new BL/Nexus to enjoy, Portia, but fortunately we have our dog-earred keepers and the rest of the current list commissioned through Dec 09 will be released through Feb 10 in the States and, I believe, and a bit later in UK. You may have those dates more handily than I at present.

In an interview I conducted w/Nevill back in06 -- which, btw was too hot to be published by the folks I was writing for at the time! -- he gave all the props in the world to Kerri Sharp, I believe, whom he felt mentored him at Virgin.  When I asked him what a man possibly could know about women's fantasies that'd make him a good erotica editor, he told the story of how is interest in erotic fiction for women began with his reading Anais Nin in early adolescence.  I guess that'd be a leg up on attributing ability to subscriptions to "Maxim" and HBO, no?

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎07-24-2009 04:03 PM

Yeah, dhaupt, this is the one area I get obsessive about delineating, cause of the hotness factor.  Ellora's Cave (EC) has neat-o delineations for readers to judge which levels of EC "Romantica" they're most comfortable with.  no surprizes, and I like that for readers.  For me, I like surprizes, just not necessarily sweet ones, you know?

 

I'd say, too, that Leigh and McKenna always have been erom, rather than erotica, but, again, I'm more rigid on determination, erotica rarely for me being about a love story, and often being driven by emotions that aren't usually sweetness and light.  Nor should they be, cause the 'less sweet' emotions ramp up the intensity of the sensual/sexual/emotional response in the reader.  'least to my way of thinkin.  But sometimes I have been convinced I've erred.

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio on ‎07-24-2009 04:06 PM
We'll miss you guys writing for BL/Cheek/Nexus, too, Kate4Queen (your majesty), and look forward to reading you all in other imprints.  I hope everyone will keep me informed of her projects so I can spread the word. 

And, too, Kate, I hear from so many BL, et al, authors that they so enjoyed the process of writing for the imprints, which is cool to hear.
by Author Lisabet_Sarai on ‎07-25-2009 12:32 AM

Thanks for posting the hot picture of Adam...! Seriously, though, I feel like the demise of BLNexus signals the end of an era. I also believe that it was a serious error on the part of Random House.

 

BL published my first novel, Raw Silk, and got me started in erotica. At its best, it offered well-crafted, meticulously edited work that engaged both the intellectual and physical sides of the reader.

 

Requiescat in Pace.

 

Warmly,

Lisabet

by Blogger Michelle_Buonfiglio ‎07-25-2009 09:46 AM - edited ‎07-25-2009 09:48 AM

It's true, Lisabet, that Adam and author Barry Eisler inspired me to coin the acronym FITH at my own site.  Foxes in the Henhouse ( a term I didn't coin) are male editors, authors, industry guys who generally wreck havoc among the mostly chick pops of readers' and writers' conferences.  And by 'wreck havoc,' I mean women go a little silly over them; they don't do much 'cept show. It's a sight to behold for one who digs observing human nature.

 

Also true, one generally could count upon the BL/Nexus imprints for offering headier stuff. It will be interesting to see how this washes financially for RH UK, as it would seem the lines were profitable.  And very popular erom/erotica lines in the UK.  

Message Edited by Michelle_Buonfiglio on 07-25-2009 09:48 AM