AAR was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Emma Holly, who was a trailblazer of erotic romance. For writers and readers alike, her books expanded the definition of what was possible and permissible to publish. Many people remember her books as their first encounters with menages, and her heroes were among the first to be explicitly and openly bisexual.

Readers here voted Holly the winner of Top Erotic Romance of the year twice (in 2006 for All U Can Eat and in 2007 for Fairyville). Our reviewers have given her three DIKs, to her 2001 book Menage in addition to All U Can Eat and Fairyville.

In 2000, Holly joined AAR’s founder Laurie for a conversation about sex and sexuality. The thoughtfulness with which Holly approached her work is evident throughout the conversation, and the whole post is worth a read. I pulled a few of my favorite quotes from here here:

“I don’t have the mindset that, ooh, romance is good and erotica is bad – or vice versa, as some writers of erotica would have you believe! Sometimes I want to write a story with plenty of sexual adventuring. Other times, I want to delve into the development of a single, committed relationship. Like most women, I prefer sex scenes that involve characters I care about, and that have emotional context as well as physical mechanics. Aside from that, I don’t find any one genre inherently more enjoyable than the other. A good read is a good read. If a sweet romance writer makes me fan my face, my hat goes off to her. (Ditto, if a writer of erotica makes me cry.)”

“Defining erotica and pornography (or romance for that matter) is rarely a simple matter of deciding on the meaning of a word. Consciously or subconsciously, we’re trying to develop a consensus about what sort of sexual behavior is “okay.” When we say one work of art qualifies as erotica and another as pornography, we’re usually saying one is acceptable and the other is sort of sick. Moreover, we’re not just passing judgment on the creative object, we’re passing judgment on the act it represents. We’re saying if you do or think this, you’re normal, but if you do or think that, you need help. Because making those moral judgments can do so much unwitting damage to people, and because they can change from culture to culture and time to time (indeed, I think we’re in a period of change right now) I’d rather not be put in the position of pinning down such loaded terms.”

I like a sense of optimism or fun, that sex is an important, healthy human need rather than something that will lead the characters down the road to ruin. And a compelling conflict is good, so that there’s more at stake in the love scene than a simple physical reward.”

Emma Holly is missed.

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Impenitent social media enthusiast. Relational trend spotter. Enjoys both carpe diem and the fish of the day.