By A. Charlotte Rose
My first job in book publishing was adding sex scenes to existing classic erotic fiction that was in the public domain and could therefore be revised and altered.
At the time I was a freelance journalist looking for some extra work and responded to an ad in the New York Times for a part-time editor of “adult books.”
When I went for an interview I was greeted by this brash, street smart, wheeler-dealer publisher who ran a company that specialized in BDSM books, except they were called S & M books then. He was a character with a huge personality that defies description but he also introduced me to his top editor– a lovely, educated young woman who looked a little like a librarian. She and I hit it off immediately and became fast friends. Her presence there made it seem like a normal office.
This was 20 years before Fifty Shades of Grey. I did not really know what S & M was and I was not terribly familiar with books in which people were whipped, caned, spanked, handcuffed, or otherwise dominated, humiliated, or caused pain, by request, but I had an inkling because somehow in my teens I had read excerpts of a Victorian novel called The Pearl. The publisher told me I was the only one who applied for the job who understood what an “adult book” was.
He hired me on the spot. He gave me a manuscript to take home and edit.
Many of the books I edited were very old, written before there were rules and guidelines for consensual BDSM. Women seemed to be victimized and have no say. I hated those parts of the books. Part of my job was to remove the violence and make it more playful and hot– to “sex it up” and tone down any extreme behaviors. Luckily, I had an editor, who like me, was more feminist than the original editors of these books and allowed me and encouraged me to make them more women-friendly, with more pleasure for the female characters.
Yes, the women received lots of oral sex and had many orgasms by the time I was done editing! Also, the books had female dominants, and I tried to make sure the men were not too beat up, even if they were begging for it.
It was a wild job, and quite a topic of conversation at cocktail parties. And I took the job seriously. To get in the mood to edit, I would put in inspiring music, and a sexy silk robe, and whip out my red pen, and edit these old Victorian whipping novels and other male oriented fiction with a great sense of abandon.
I felt I was making a contribution to sex literature, and I was proud of it, but I longed to write my own erotic fiction.
Finally, after I had proved my sex writing skills on a dozen or so books, my publisher gave me a contract for my first novel. Several would follow. I literally taught myself how to write books by penning saucy novels. I loved writing erotic fiction because it was very freeing and I focused on pleasure for women, which was not the tradition at the time, when most erotica was being penned by men and for men. I called it erotica from a woman’s perspective.
My first was a book of seductive stories. My second was a collection of erotic romance novellas. My third was a book about search for love and great sex with doctors. And my fourth was about a woman who is feeling the need for something more in life and ends up spending a day with dominant (and domineering) movie star. One of my stories, A Cowgirl’s Passion, was selected at the top erotic story for women by Dr. Ruth Westminster in New Woman Magazine back in 1993.
When I began editing erotic books I was single and had not yet become a mommy. By the time I got my first book contract I was in a relationship. I became pregnant somewhere in the middle of writing my first book, and pregnancy hormones were pretty evident in a story called Pregnant Loving. As it happened, the launch date of my first book was the day my son was born–first baby and first book arrived on the same day!
I was established as a journalist back then and continued to write for major magazines. Because I wasn’t sure how I would feel about revealing that I was a mother who writes steamy books, I took on the pen name Charlotte Rose. It was the girl name I had selected in case I had a daughter and since I had a boy, I took the name for myself.
But back then, women were just not as comfortable talking about sex. Times have changed! That’s why I was so excited when Fifty Shades of Grey came out. It opened the dialog about sexuality and it brought fiction with erotic themes and pleasure for women into the mainstream.
For several years I enjoyed both motherhood and writing steamy romances. I even became an editor and sex reporter for Playgirl Magazine. But as my son got older I moved back into journalism and a surprising new career path.
My husband has encouraged me to slip back into my silky robe and start writing sexy books again.
I’ve started by returning to my roots as a sex reporter and penning some steamy short stories. Readers have been asking me about my books. There are two other authors named Charlotte Rose now, but I hope to share some of my erotic romance writing with you under the byline A. Charlotte Rose in the year to come.