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, Elizabeth Haynes talks about getting addicted to Candlelight Ecstasy Romance (relatable) and how that lead her to becoming a writer.
First romance novel you read:
I can’t remember the title, but it would have been a Candlelight Ecstasy Romance, from the library. I read one of these and I remember the sheer joy I felt when I realised that there were literally hundreds of them.
How old were you?
About 12 or 13 – just about old enough to not get challenged by coming up the stairs from the children’s library to the adult section!
How’d you get your hands on the book?
I think I would have picked it up from one of the ‘returned books’ gurneys, or else maybe I bought a copy from a second-hand book shop, or from a jumble sale. After that – well. The addiction took hold, let’s say.
What was the reading experience like?
A little… furtive. As an only child with a mother who was quite emotionally distant, it felt like a yearning for education – and probably affection as much as anything else. That’s really sad, isn’t it? I’ve only just realised that’s probably where it came from.
What made the experience special?
I think all of us who write will recognise this: the knowledge that you have the power to create your own worlds. You can disappear into someone else’s world, yes, that’s true – and everyone who reads does that. But as a reader you’re still at the mercy of the author and that can be a bit frustrating sometimes. So it’s better to write, isn’t it? Better to be able to make things happen exactly the way you want them – to have conversations without being tongue-tied, to take yourself and your characters anywhere in the universe, and make them dance… what a delight that is – right?
So I read my first or second or third Candlelight Ecstasy Romance, and I probably fell in love with the protagonists, both of them, and at some point I found the ending a little unsatisfying (or perhaps inexplicit, ha), and then I wrote my own version. I didn’t know it was fanfiction, I don’t think that term existed then, but I did rewrite scenes a lot. Then eventually I worked out that it was even better if the characters were mine in the first place, they’d be totally under my control then… and if I set it somewhere I knew, then I’d be able to write it accurately. The experience was special because it made me realise I could write, even if I was only ever writing for myself.
What role does smut play in your life?
Whether I’m writing psychological thrillers, historical or even romance, finally, there’s almost inevitably sex in there somewhere. And those are usually my favourite bits.
Elizabeth Haynes is the author of eight novels, including her debut Into the Darkest Corner which was Amazon UK’s Best Book of 2011 and a New York Times bestseller. You, Me and the Sea is her first contemporary romance, and is now available for pre-order. Connect with Elizabeth on Twitter: @elizjhaynes
Thanks Elizabeth! Erin and Ingrid also both read a ton of Candlelight Ecstasy Romances (from the the library) and are right there with you! Watch this space in February for a review of You, Me, and the Sea – we look forward to reading it!