During the three years I did the writing course I managed to get a few short stories published in magazines, which was very exciting. Then, one spring day in 2009 I came across a writing competition. It wasn’t any old competition, it was an award for erotic fiction.
I hesitated as I read through the entry requirements—in a nutshell they wanted something sassy and rude to get them hot under the collar! I’d read more erotic literature by this point, mainly books with strong elements of romance in them for I liked my characters to be in love. I decided that I had enough reading material under my belt to give it a go.
But I didn’t get to the task of writing my entry straight away. I let an idea brew in my mind as I went about my chores. I got to thinking of a story about the first female president of the United States. It was around the time of the US election and I’d also been watching a documentary about Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Anyway, the story ended up being called Madam President and was about the first female president of the US having an illicit affair with the British PM. It was only a short story, never moved from the Oval Office, and took me longer to go through over and over and over checking for typos than it did to write.
Eventually, on a warm Sunday afternoon, I decided that I’d done my best and it was as good as it was going to get, so I hit send and pushed all thoughts of the competition from my mind. There were bound to be hundreds of brilliant entries, with much fancier plot lines, racier encounters and snazzier characters. This was, after all, my first ever attempt at erotic fiction.
Only it seemed there wasn’t hundreds and hundreds of fancier entries! A few weeks later I got a phone call telling me I’d won first place (which included a not-to-be-sniffed-at cash prize) and could they do an interview and get a photo and, and, and…where the hell did I get the idea from?
I was hopping with happiness. But did I tell anyone?
Apart, of course, from my husband, who read the award-winning story that evening. After which he turned to me, gave me a look that was like no other I’d ever seen on his face. It was as though he was seeing me afresh, looking into my mind. A mind that had come up with something naughty and sexy, clever and imaginative. A lovely warm feeling settled in my stomach. I was no longer the tired, harassed mother who used to be a nurse. I was now an award-winning author of erotic fiction.
This gave me confidence to write more and I submitted a story to the endlessly vivacious Violet Blue, who was compiling her annual anthology. She adored my naughty tale, Stable Manners, and contracted it for 2010 Best Women’s Erotica.
Now my enthusiasm was really flying high, and almost like a compulsion, writing became a huge focus in my life. When the kids were at school, the house quiet, it was all that I wanted to do. Write, write, write. I had so many stories, so many characters in my head. I had to get them down. I wasn’t reading much anymore, it was too distracting. I was just writing, writing, writing.
Lily Harlem is a multi-published, award winning author of contemporary erotic romance. She lives in the UK and writes for several publishing houses including Ellora’s Cave and Total-E-Bound and features in numerous UK and US anthologies.
Her stories are made up of colourful characters travelling on everyone’s favourite journey — falling in love. If the story isn’t deliciously romantic and down and dirty sexy, it won’t be written, at least not by Lily. With the bedroom door left well and truly open readers are warned to hang on for a steamy, sensual ride - or rides as the case might be!