My First Smut

My First Smut: Epic Multigenerational Saga Edition

My First Smut is a recurring feature where we talk about our formative smut experiences. These short confessionals may include such details as: What book did you read? How old were you? Were there other people involved? What made the experience special? What role does smut play in your life?

This week, author Mia Tsai shares her memory of the first romance she read. The title is a mystery, but the story sure was exciting.


First romance novel you read

I can’t even remember the title of the book–it was a historical romance set during World War II, though.

How old were you?

Early high school

How’d you get your hands on the book?

I found it in the attic, in a box belonging to my mother, which was a surprise, since she doesn’t read romance.

What was the reading experience like?

Fascinating. I had never read adult romance books before, especially not historical fiction, and especially not with sex scenes. I went back and reread some sections several times, but it didn’t cross my mind until much later that there would be more books like this one and that there would be a whole subgenre devoted to it.

What made the experience special?

It was a memorable book in the sense that I’d never read a historical romance; in hindsight, this was a terrible book to start my romance journey since it was a multigenerational saga about Jewish people falling in love, not always with each other, during World War II. It was incredibly problematic, which I had a feeling about but couldn’t put into words. There was a Nazi romance element. There was a blond and blue-eyed Jewish character who was written to be the most sympathetic. There was, if I remember correctly, nominally a happily ever after, maybe. I’d actually love to have someone tell me that no, I didn’t read a romance, I read a historical saga with sex in it, just so I could redo my answer and pick a different book.

What role does smut play in your life?

I love it, full stop, and I also read it when I have the time and inclination. That doesn’t always mean I want it in everything I read, but I have the highest respect for authors who can craft wonderful scenes that get you to put the book down and take a break. I feel like I was forged in the smut fire of lemons, fanfic communities on LiveJournal, and “why does Ao3 keep logging me out and forcing me to hit the ‘I agree’ button again.” There’s a joy inherent in reading, writing, and recommending smut, a glee I think is delightful.


Mia Tsai is an author, editor, and musician whose debut contemporary fantasy (with lots of romance), BITTER MEDICINE, arrives March 14, 2023 from Tachyon Publications. She adores a lyrical turn of phrase, a rhythm section in the pocket, and that one Reddit user who said BITTER MEDICINE “has some of the most loving and hot sex scenes I’ve ever read.” She can be found on Twitter at @itsamia, on Instagram at @mia.tsai.books, and on the web at https://www.miatsai.com. She blogs seldomly and has a newsletter at https://www.tinyletter.com/miatsai.


Thanks Mia! Anyone have any ideas about what this multigenerational saga was, so we can tell Mia that she actually read a historical epic with sex in it? Either way, we look forward to reading Bitter Medicine in March.

Have an early smut experience you’d like to share with us? If you’d like to see your story featured, send us an email or fill out our questionnaire and we’ll post it in an upcoming week.

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