Sunday, December 23, 2012

What Are British "Steamies?"

When I came across this article that mentions British "Steamies" I saved the link for a future post.

So what are "steamies?"

The London publishers Piccadilly Press describe steamies as “escapist romances, featuring young women, the same age as the readers, exploring their first sexual desires and their first sexual experiences.”

Then the author writes this:

In other words, porn.

Interesting. And I say this because most authors who write erotica and erotic romance will tell you how careful they are to stay away from any YA material. Their publishers feel the same way. That's why I make a point of keeping this blog G rated at all times. You never know.

While Britain may have the dubious title of being mainstream erotic fiction’s spiritual home, much of the groundwork for this new genre has been undertaken in these United States. The “steamies” movement draws inspiration from the much-loved work of New Jersey native Judy Blume, whose 1975 novel “Forever” is seen as the first young adult novel to discuss sexuality in a frank manner. It was, inevitably, subject to widespread bans from schools. Racy American teen titles such as Abbi Glines' “The Vincent Boys” have also recently been picked up by Simon & Schuster UK.

I love my British readers. I've been amazed how how supportive they are. And it doesn't surprise me that the term "steamies" originated in Britain.

Plus, this is the third time this week I've heard about Judy Blume's book, and now I'm dying to read it. I want to know what's considered porn by some of these people.

But notice one thing in particular. None of the smaller e-presses that focus on erotica and erotic romance are marketing toward a YA market (as far as I know anyway). It's Simon & Schuster, going in for the kill once of the big six. Years ago this was the kind of thing that could slip by, and to a certain extent it still is. The mainstream media is so out of touch with what's been happening in publishing it is really a little sad. (What do they get paid to do?) But not completely, because people like me are reading these things and blogging about them now, for free.

In any event, it's an interesting article and it talks even more about "steamies." And I have a feeling we'll be hearing a lot more about that word, and these books, in the coming year.  


Shelagh said...

Ugh, the headline is annoying! Like '50 Shades...' has anything to do with it. I can only speak from my experience as mum to a teenaged daughter (now 18). I know for a fact that she discovered erotic fiction long before that book came out. If most teenaged boys are looking at underwear models (and probably a lot worse) on the internet, their sisters are drooling over Benedict Cumberbatch and reading and writing stories pairing off Sherlock with Doctor Watson.

I was rather shocked when she showed me how easy it was for her to bypass the supposed safeguards to x-rated content on sites like and DeviantArt. We have talked about it, though - a lot.

Maybe I'm deluding myself, but I have less problem with erotic fiction that straight-out porn, mostly because the fiction does have some plot, to a greater or lesser extent, and the sex does have some context in a way that most porn does not. We've had some interesting conversations :)

What is interesting, to me, is that she is a lot less curious and precocious that I was at her age. Or at least she is able to satisfy a lot of her curiosity by reading, in a way that was completely inaccessible to me. We've had a lot of frank discussions and I've probably shocked her more than she's shocked me ;)

As with porn, I think the problems can arise when it's not possible for a teen/YA to have those discussions with an adult, when porn or erotic fiction becomes the sum of their sex education.

ryan field said...

Agree with you. When I was sixteen I was reading erotic paperbacks. I've also heard the legal age of consent it different in the UK and Canada. I don't know that for sure, though. But most small publishers don't go near YA erotica. I think most even state in their guidelines. Be interesting to see if this starts a new trend. I've written a few New Adult erotic romances, but that's a different story altogether.

And I read one YA book last year I thought was excellent. There was also a sex scene I thought was fairly explicit.

What's really annoying is that 50 Shades gets all this attention and it's really nothing new. I sometimes wonder how these journalists get away with it :)