We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby Guest Post & Giveaway By Karen Mercury

As we say goodbye to 2010 we also say goodbye to our delightful December Author in the Spotlight, Amy Romine. Of course, Amy is a affiliate author, so it will not be the last we hear from her, but I would still like to thank her for her company and joining in with the fun. :) THANK YOU!

So, without further ado, I'd like to formally introduce you to our Author in the Spotlight this month - Karen Mercury!
Karen will be our guest for the whole month, so, please give her a warm welcome, and drop by and say hi! There's a giveaway and an extremely funny guest post to go with it below.

GIVEAWAY: Today Karen will be holding a month long competition, where she  will very kindly supply a hard copy of one of her first three novels (pictured) as a prize for a commenter.That's all you have to do to enter - comment AND leave your email address and or blog url (if you have one). 
To find out more about Karen, visit her webpage on AR and her beautiful website

We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby
Guest Post By Karen Mercury

I used to write erotic romance back in the 80s.  But back then it was called “porn.”

There were many other differences in those days.  The books were snailed to the reader covered modestly in brown paper.  I presume that was so no one’s wife would catch them, as most readers were men.  Women read those demure romances my sisters and I called “ladies running away from houses books,” as the cover usually depicted a shapely woman racing in terror from an Edwardian mansion, preferably during a lightning storm.

The 80s erotic romances didn’t actually involve romance at all.  Books were just a panoply (cavalcade? Continuum?) of wall-to-wall sex scenes.  Most of mine involved one POV, the heroine’s, as she literally sped from location to location, just mindlessly having sex with various men she was vaguely acquainted with, simply for the non-condom-wearing fun of it, I suppose.  I recall one extended scene I wrote that took place in a trailer at an oil refinery.  The heroine had such rollicking sex with a father/son duo that they literally knocked the trailer on its side, and she escaped out the front door, which was now the roof.  And sped on to another escapade.  I think she actually owned a sex toy or BDSM store.

Needless to say, there was no character development.  Who knew if Rocky McSweeney, the janitor who swept up the champagne bottles and empty amyl nitrite vials after the parties, would ever recover from his war injury (or was it a bizarre polo accident)?  It never seemed to matter if ol’ Rocky ever made another appearance again, and his hernia was left swinging in the breeze.  Readers never seemed to care if poor Spike Main* ever succeeded in turning his seminal punk tape “Walk a Mile in my Safety Pins” into a smash hit.  Characters were just left unconscious under overturned furniture like so many slam dancers , never to be seen again.

*Yes, back then, we utilized the trick of creating a “porn name” by taking your childhood pet’s name, and combining it with the name of the street you grew up on.  A practice that resulted in such unfortunate monikers as Taffy Spruce, and Max First.

Writers were also thoroughly mortified to admit they wrote in such a genre.   It simply “was not done.”  I can’t recall what I claimed that I did, to make enough money in a short amount of time to spend over six months jet-setting through the fetid jungles of Africa.  But I certainly never admitted even to my liberal roommate that I had to go to the post office to ship off my latest epic involving—egads, this is only now coming back to me—sex with a manikin.   These days, while you might not be sending your aunt in Switzerland the link to your latest MMF western (remind me not to include her in my mass email), there is a sea change in how free you can be at your spouse’s company Christmas party, handing out fliers.

I first became aware of what we now call “erotic romance” while signing books at a Romantic Times conference in St. Louis a few years ago.  I wrote basically “serious” historical fiction, albeit with steamy sex scenes.  My signing table was next to a couple of ladies who wrote for a popular, if not the only at the time, erotic romance publisher.  Their line was out the door, while I sat there twiddling my bookmarks.  I even had my cover model at my table, drumming up business, while these ladies kept calling out for “more books” to sign because they kept running out.  I asked a reader in the elevator “why the clamor?” and she replied excitedly “we can’t get these books where I live. We eat them up!”

I’m glad to discover the genre has changed even since that eye-opening St. Louis experience.  It’s truly a joy to think I’ve at last found a home, a place where I can combine a love of history and literature with my other favorite topic, sex.  That’s another mammoth difference between the “porn” of yesteryear and the romance of today.  Now, character development and plot is encouraged.  And I’m so relieved the H/H, from being required to have graphic penetration in Chapter One, are now advised to wait until they build up enough tension to at least know each other’s first names, what their life’s goals are, and what sort of breakfast cereal the other prefers.  The buildup of tension has always been my favorite part. Let’s face it—after that, it’s all downhill.  Maybe that’s why so many characters with names like Buddy Fourth and Jake Highway 101 were abandoned, dangling under office furniture, without ever knowing if they’d get that recording contract, or if their weed dealer would return from Mendocino.  They had already served their purpose in Chapter One.

If only I could find one of those deathless tomes I used to write in the 80s.  Those sad, pathetic, embarrassing paperbacks with shameful solid purple book covers, and titles like “The Harder They Come.”  Nowadays it’s such a relief, the freedom to email, write, and blog about what was once a topic that was kept under the wraps of brown paper.  The sense of complete and utter mortification is a thing of the past.  We’ve come a long way.

Please leave a comment for the author below. [[To enter her giveaway, please include your email and/or blog address (if you have one), to help us find you -- should you win. Good luck! ]]

January 2011
Author in the Spotlight
Karen Mercury
Visit Karen's Spotlight Author Page
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*All giveaways are open to all unless otherwise stated.




  1. Such a funny post, Karen, thank you!

  2. We have come a long way baby! I didn't read erotic romance in the 80's or the 90's even, I guess I'm a recent connoisseur. But, I do prefer that a good love story to surround the erotica, and not erotica as the story which does exist, when page one is a quickie, by page two, I've lost interest. An erotica short story or novella moves much quicker than a book, as long as itfits into the limited pages, it all good too. Unfortunately, I live in a very small town in the middle of the bible belt. One day the 21st century will catch up to us, until then, I order ebooks online.

    Count me in!



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