Since I spent most of my adult life working on top-shelf magazines and reviewing fetish clubs, I found it quite easy to be comfortable in my own skin. I never feared aging, as my appearance had never been my main selling point.
Even when I was younger, I believed that the fact that I was ‘interesting’ would last me for a lifetime whereas all the food-refusing, poking and prodding, expensive shopping and constant self-policing in the world would not stop me getting older. I was used to seeing a range of bodies – various ages as well as various shapes and sizes – presented as sexual and desirable, far more so than if I had only had my reflection in the mirror and the mainstream media to go to for images of what is attractive. Having come to the conclusion – before I did too much damage to myself or anyone else – that long term monogamy was not for me, I had a lot of sex with a lot of people, and initially saw no reason why that should ever stop happening. I was going to be a goodtime bad girl forever…
Of course, things changed. Belated parenthood, the steady demise of the porn magazine and then the hormonal upheavals that get us all to some extent or another – meant that I eventually did get to a stage where I had started to regard the sexy stage of my life as having come to an end. I consoled myself with the fact that I’d probably had more fun than a lot of people, and cast about for something else to think about. It didn’t really work, but it turned out that it didn’t need to.
EL James is someone I would definitely buy a pint for, if I met her, as she was probably the single biggest factor in what I regard as my erotic resurrection. No, I didn’t read the wretched books and have no intention of doing so, but the 50 Shades phenomenon meant the market for erotic fiction was suddenly wide open again. That was great news for me. Also, the guidelines for erotica seemed a little less rigid than they had been. It was okay to write about dominant women and bisexuality. I even got away with creating a mature-ish female protagonist for my novel Black Heart. She was 39 rather than a pensioner, but no one asked me to change the story and make her the usual unawakened 20-year-old. Subsequently, I met a younger man who demonstrated very convincingly that I was still, at 50, desirable.
In the course of one of those Facebook discussions that go on between authors, the subject of erotic fiction about older people arose. No editor wants stories about elderly protagonists, it was said. You can’t sell older women as sexy. Sexy werewolves, sure, sexy vampires, any time, m/m romances for a female audience, lots of those. Bloody billionaires and hysterical historicals, yeah, fine. Older women? Granny grabbing, tomb raiding, coffin-boffing? Eww, no thanks.
Sod it, I thought, time this was altered.
I already knew about Sexy Little Pages, a new erotica publisher willing to work with anyone who had an interesting idea, so one quick email exchange later, Silver Desire was conceived. I put out a call to every writer I knew: send me a story, which focuses on a woman aged 50, or older, having a sexual encounter. I got a magnificent response (give or take a few cookie-cutter Mrs Robinsoneque tales that were politely returned) and pulled together the ten stories, which make up the anthology. Yes, some are a little more bittersweet and elegiac than is usual in erotic fiction, but there’s plenty of brazen, bawdy joy in there as well. And, having recently appeared in a proper porn film for the first time at the age of 51, I feel safe in rejecting the idea that the future holds nothing for me but knitting, nice cups of tea and the occasional totter round a garden centre.
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