Unfortunately for me, nobody in my family read romance. So all I came up with was a couple scenes from my grandmother's large-print "Reader's Digest" fiction anthology that hinted at some sort of fondling by a scarred Israeli fighter pilot which had his beauteous bride "arching closer." Then there was the perplexing copy of Melville's "Billy Budd " St. Nick left in my stocking in middle school, probably not understanding that shipboard homoeroticism wouldn't be my thing for another thirty years or so.
But can shadowy glimpses of sexuality gleaned from purloined romance novels -- and classic genre fiction we don't comprehend completely -- really form the readers we become?
If you put the question to author and former Virgin Books erotica editor Adam Neville, the answer's a definitive, yes. When I asked him about what influenced his ability to know which erotic fantasies women want to read about, Neville told me it began with snooping in his parents' library. "When I was an adolescent," says Neville, "I found my parents' copies of the works of Anais Nin . They changed my life and the way I looked at women, their sexuality and their needs."
And the way he looked at his mom's girlfriends? "Well, yes, it rather did that," he admits with a laugh.
Yet our childhood reading also influences our writing, and for some successful authors, stumbling across a work of sexy or erotic genre fiction can have as much positive impact on their careers as the works of literary fiction and research materials that help refine their chops. Historical-fiction writer Susan Holloway Scott -- "The French Mistress " - says a banned-in-Boston classic from 1944 introduced her to the time period about which she'd write many novels.
"My first introduction to Restoration England came by way of an innocently dog-eared copy of Kathleen Winsor's "Forever Amber " I found in the library one summer as a middle schooler," says Scott, whose new history blog with romance superstar Loretta Chase is TwoNerdyHistoryGirls.com. "The thing that was most remarkable about the novel to me as a young girl, was that for a change, the main character having the lusty adventures was a woman, not a man!"
Today, access to classics of literary- and genre fiction - and just about any type of reading entertainment inbetween - is a click away for the enterprising young reader
I mean, look how good we turned out.
What are the novels you probably shouldn't have been reading when you stumbled across them, but which changed your life - or just turned you on? Which were the romances? Do you hide those same books from your kids, grandchildren or other young'ns?
Cool Genre-Fiction Event 7.30 Tonight at Lincoln Center BN: Romance fave Anna DeStefano, debut phenom Leanna Renee Heiber and Two Guys Who Don't Write Romance Fiction.
Can U read/write more pages/words in a month than I can? Double-dawg dare ya to try when you join me in the Unleash Your Story Read/Write-a-Thon for Cystic Fibrosis. Deets and prize info here!
Message Edited by Michelle_Buonfiglio on 08-25-2009 02:13 PM