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Updated: Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 5:28 AM MST
Published : Friday, 21 Dec 2012, 5:28 AM MST
SISTERDALE, Texas (KXAN) - Senior citizen Desiree Holt misses her late husband, David, terribly.
“I was fortunate to be married to the most wonderful man in the world,” she said. “I had as close to a perfect marriage as you could get.”
That’s not an unusual thing for a woman to say, but Holt goes on: “We had a wonderful sex life; I would wish mine for everybody in the world.”
OK, admit it. You think that is a bit odd coming from a 76-year-old widow. And you could be forgiven for thinking you have an explanation coming. Here it is:
First, Desiree Holt is not Desiree Holt’s real name. That real name is what she calls a “closely guarded secret.”
You see, Holt is an author, a writer of a relatively new genre called, “erotic romance.” That’s the same genre in which British author E L James published his blockbuster hit, “ Fifty Shades of Grey ” last year. But Holt started earning a good living from such writing well before that.
The first try
“My first book that I wrote was a romance,” she said, “just a straight romance, somewhat sensuous, but not steamy. And I sent it out, like everybody else does and I got 167 rejections.
“I kept them all because, you know, it keeps you humble to know that people can still say, 'No.'
But in 2006, Holt sent in another manuscript, this one to the premiere erotic romance publisher, Ellora’s Cave . The results were decidedly different.
The first book
“They bought it! And I thought, 'Oh, my God, they bought this story from me.' And then they asked me if I would like to submit something else. And I thought, 'Holy Cow!'"
That was 137 titles ago. Some 60 percent of them are novels, the rest shorter pieces called novellas.
“It's just been a really fast ride with them,” Holt said, “and it seemed like the more I wrote, the more I thought about plots and things to write. And the more I sent them, the more they wanted. So I now have about 90 titles with Ellora's Cave and another 46, 47 with other publishers.”
To appreciate how unique all that is, you have to know a thing or two about erotic romance. Number one: It’s not the romance writing you find displayed on grocery store and airport shop shelves.
“In romance writing, as a broad genre, it can be everything from very little sex, to inside the bedroom door, but without much detail,” Holt explained.
“In erotic romance, you open the bedroom door and tell it all, as long as you tell it tastefully. And that doesn't mean that you aren't using graphic language because you are. But it has to be part of the story, you know.
“It's like eating a meal; describing the food is part of the meal. So describing the sex is part of the emotion of the story.”
So what is graphic language in this case? Well, just use your imagination and know such words are not available for use in articles such as this one. Suffice to say, it goes well beyond the romance novel use of such terms as, “the male member.”
And, it’s not just the words; erotic romance also implies using such words quite often.
“There is absolutely no limit on how much sex you can put in an erotic story,” Holt said. “When you get into erotic romance, it's no-holds-barred. You can get everything in there, as long as it's well-written.”
The 'P' word
Now before you jump to the conclusion that Holt is an author of pornography, allow her to dissuade you from that move.
“Is what I write pornography?” she asked. “No, because pornography is just graphic sex with nothing else.”
It is true that as Holt kicked out erotic tale after erotic tale from her home in the rural community of Sisterdale, just north of San Antonio, she became known as the “Porn Queen of Central Texas.” But that was a joke, a moniker given her by a daughter who, like the rest of the family, was coming to terms with her mom’s newly acquired occupation.
“It's just a fun title,” Holt said; “It allows them to play with it.”
The author, too, has fun with her job, but she is also quite serious about the work.
The serious side
“I just feel that sex is a part of life and it's a part of romance,” she said. “And if you're going to talk about what people are wearing, as part of the story, and the discussions they have, then you might as well talk about what else is part of the relationship, because in a really good relationship, sex is a very big part.”
Indeed, all of the sex in Holt’s books emerges from strong human connectivity.
“There's always a relationship and that's what it all stems from,” said the author. “The relationship is key to the whole thing. Even if it's only for one night, there's a connection. They talk to each other; they relate to each other, and so the sex evolves from that.”
And Holt argues married couples in real life can benefit greatly from plunging into erotic romance titles.
Sex and marriage
“This is what makes a good marriage,” she insisted. “And it's also on different levels, you know. You don't have to have really intense protracted sex every single time. And a lot of it is in the seduction.
But the seduction can be done in more graphic ways than you would read in your sensuous novels.
“Once you open your mind to it, it also improves other areas of your relationship, too. When you can open yourself physically to someone, you can open yourself emotionally. When you can open yourself emotionally, then that takes care of all of the nitty-gritty of life and you tend to look at it differently.
“You know that if you have an argument, it isn't going to last. You know how to deal with each other and you know how to cool off and how to heat up again.”
Still, Holt says most of her readers are women. And, she suggests, there’s a good reason for that.
Sex and women
“Women, particularly, women's sensuality has been a taboo topic for so long and I really don't understand why,” Holt said. “Because women should be able to enjoy life the same way that men do.
“They have all these magazines for men like ‘Penthouse’ and ‘Playboy’ and everything else and everybody thinks that's wonderful. But if you talk about a woman's sexual desires, they want you to do it behind a black curtain. I just don't see why that's necessary. It's nothing to be ashamed of.
“I think as women have become more emboldened, as they have grown career-wise, as they have become equal partners in a marriage, as they've become more established in the world, they take control of the situation.
“And they say, 'Why am I hiding in the bedroom? I enjoy sex. What's wrong with me telling people about it?' And so I think it grows from there.”
Sex and age
And if Holt’s work is aimed at women, it is also aimed at a particular age group.
“The oldest heroine that I have written about,” Holt said, “is 49 because I think that people are not yet ready to read about heroines in their 50s and 60s. Although I wish they would.
“But I don't really write about 20-somethings any more or even early 30s because I feel that the women have not yet reached the level of emotional sophistication that I want my heroines to have, and for them to be able to deal with the problems that I present them with.
“But I think once a woman reaches 34, 35 and older, that she has that kind of perspective on life. And that my heroines, as I write them, have a greater ability to deal with the situations that I present to them.”
Still, Holt is willing to experiment. She’s now working on a synopsis for a three-book series that will feature women in their 50s and men in their early 60s. Her intention is to run it up the proverbial flagpole and see if anyone salutes, so to speak.
Sex and advanced age
And if that goes well, the writer envisions a day when our culture could begin to celebrate deeply sensual and intimate stories about senior citizens like her and beloved late husband, who was among her biggest fans before his death.
“I would hope for it,” Holt said. “I can't yet imagine it, except for myself and some of my friends and acquaintances, because of the way society looks at things, but I'm really hoping that we get there because age really is a state of mind.
“The body performs differently so you learn to accommodate it. But your emotions are still the same and the relationships you have with your husband, wife, partner, significant other are still the same; you just adjust them.
“And there is absolutely nothing wrong with people in their 70s, even 80s having an active sex life. It's all in how you approach it.
The battle ahead
“The problem is that we have a society that is controlled in many ways by advertising agencies who don't think that anybody over 32 is attractive. So, you know, it's an uphill battle but I plan to wage it.”
Holt suspects the first skirmish might come online. Her 20-year-old granddaughter is already handling social media for the woman. So it could be just a short jump to offering experimental senior citizen liaisons in free Web posts. That, she reasons, could create curiosity in the public and maybe lead, someday, to an actual demand for that kind of thing.
Meanwhile, Holt cranks out as many as 5,000 words a day at her computer keyboard and the checks keep showing up in the mail.