I've talked about most of the reasons I decided to edit in the introductions to my anthologies, which I include on this site. Most of what I didn't say about it in the intros, I said in the Behind the Book areas of this site.
I think the one thing I haven't really talked about much is that I really, really wanted to put together some good reading for readers. I thought some of the anthologies I've read weren't of high enough quality, and I thought other people might think that as well, so I set about making it happen. After all, writers are all about our readers since they are our only reason for being.
Well, unless one is a playwright or something like that, and their audience partakes of their writing in another way.
But in this anthology area, it's all about the readers.
So I just wanted to take a moment to thank all my readers—the wonderful women who read my mysteries, anthologies and other types of writing.
I think the one time I had to write note for someone in case I won an award while I was off having surgery, the main thing I wrote was to thank the readers. So feel free to let me know whe you like—or dislike—something. After all, it's all about you.
Feel free to visit these anthology pages and check out some of what's in the anthologies I've edited.
Check out all the incredible
anthologies on this site:
Sacred Ground: News and Views
on Lesbian Writing
When Lesbian Writers Go BAD
By Joy Parks
Since 2004, Bella After Dark (BAD), an imprint of Bella Books, has quickly developed a stellar list of erotica, with titles such as Back to Basic: A Butch/Femme Anthology, The Call of the Dark (both edited by Therese Szymanski), The Perfect Valentine (edited by Therese Szymanski and Barbara Johnson) and the New Exploit series of themed novella collections including Once Upon a Dyke and Bell, Book, and Dyke by Karin Kallmaker, Therese Szymanski, Barbara Johnson and Julia Watts.
But the brave and seemingly successful imprint almost never was. According to Bella publisher Linda Hill, “Bella After Dark developed largely because some of our authors convinced me that publishing erotica was a good idea. To be honest, we were initially pretty set against it…since our biggest concern was that we didn't want to alienate or offend some of our more vanilla readers, we decided that the best approach was to create a different imprint and make it clear to customers that this line had high erotic content.”
According to Hill, BAD will continue to publish three or four titles each year. “Overall, sales of our BAD books have been steady. So far we aren't feeling the pressure to make any changes, but that could certainly be different in the next year or so.”
When Bella/BAD author Karin Kallmaker started writing more erotic pieces, she admits to being afraid of alienating her romance readers, so much so she thought of using another pseudonym for her erotic work. When Linda Hill proposed the BAD imprint, she says, “I was really pleased, and more comfortable putting ‘Karin Kallmaker’ on the cover. There have been a few readers who were still caught off-guard; a couple who wrote to express their displeasure, the occasional negative review insisting a story wasn’t romantic if it had graphic sex. But the overwhelming response has been, ‘Please write more. Quickly.’”
Therese Szymanski, best known for her politically incorrect and highly erotic detective series featuring the sexually adventurous Brett Higgins, came to Bella After Dark without those kinds of restraints. “ I seem to have, quite unknowingly, broken many boundaries with Brett. All I was doing was simply trying to not write what everyone else was.” As an editor of several BAD anthologies, her goal is to provide quality erotica that includes a well-told story. Continues Szymanski, “I'm tired of anthologies that try to find how far they can go—how much pain, torture, humiliation; how much TG/TS can be included; how bad they can be. I might push boundaries in ways, but everything must fit in my concept and idea. There’s a risk of offending some readers, but by creating BAD as a separate imprint, Bella has done its best to ensure that readers can find their own level of risqué.”
Julia Watts, whose work has appeared in the New Exploits series, is less concerned with classifying her work as erotic or otherwise, noting that other than the category of "lesbian fiction,” her writing is pretty hard to classify. Julia says “writing for the BAD series is a little different because I have to write with some erotic possibilities in mind. Obviously, I'm not going to write about a single woman living in total isolation...unless she has a very lively fantasy life. With the BAD novellas, I do have to think of stories in which there's a context for sex, but still, I'm not writing stories that are only about sex. My goal is for the erotic content to grow naturally out of well-developed characters and well-developed relationships. I think that the novella is a particularly effective form for erotica, there's time to develop the characters, to set the mood, to explore different erotic possibilities.”
Barbara Johnson, whose novellas appear in the New Exploits series and who has served as co-editor (with Therese Szymanski) on The Perfect Valentine, sees much larger implications for lesbian erotica. “There’s a definite backlash to the ultra-conservatism that’s overtaken this country, coupled with a devastating apathy. I think gay people have let the gains we have made over the last three decades slip silently and slowly away. They’ll not see the consequences of their actions or, more accurately, non-actions, for several years, but I believe it is coming. Gay people grasp at the tidbits thrown us like The L Word or Will and Grace or a publicity-stunt kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears, when in reality what is coming is a return to the loneliness and fear of Brokeback Mountain. But most people in the community say, ‘It won’t ever be that way again.’ And those are the people we have to fear most.”
Johnson points to the political subversiveness of writing erotica as a rejection to this passivity. “I would prefer to see people, whether gay or straight, take some real action. Lesbian erotica in and of itself is a powerful statement. It says, ’We are here and this is who we are.’ Even in its mildest form, it scares people to death, yet fascinates them. Erotic writing can be a way of saying ‘I don’t give a damn what you think.’ And the more extreme the better.”
And you can buy the book from your local independent/feminist/LGBT or rockin' lesbian bookstore, or any really cool store that might sell books like mine.
Oh, and of course, you can buy it/find out about its availability and such from my terrific publisher, Bella Books.
My books are also available on a veritable plethora of online booksellers, including
all the Amazons in the world:
And a whole lot of other places.
|Check out all the incredible
anthologies on this site: