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Claiming of Sleeping Beauty author Anne Rice

Claiming of Sleeping Beauty author Anne Rice aka A. N. Roquelaure

Author Anne Rice announced plans for a 4th installment in the notorious Claiming of Sleeping Beauty series of erotic books yesterday, a novel way of ringing in 2014.   Rice originally penned three books in the series, The Claiming of Sleeping BeautyBeauty’s Punishment, and Beauty’s Release under the pen-name A. N. Roquelaure.  Earlier novels in the series were released between 1983 and 1985.

Rice is the author of more than thirty books, with total sales of close to 100 million copies.  Her work includes five erotic novels under two pseudonyms, she also wrote Exit to Eden and Belinda as Anne Rampling circa 1985-1986.

Rice’s most popular writings to date have been The Vampire Chronicles series, of which Interview with the VampireThe Vampire Lestat, and The Queen of the Damned were adapted into a pair of major motion pictures.

” claiming of sleeping beauty” announcement

Rice’s announcement wasn’t made in a press conference, nor did it come from a publicist.  Rather than using traditional media sources to declare her newest project, Anne Rice instead made a couple of posts at Facebook announcing the new effort.

And when I was writing these erotic novels, I did indeed meet sympathetic members of the BDSM community and found them inspiring and kind. My best friend at the time of writing was John Preston, a very famous S&M erotic novelist. And he was always an inspiration. The Wikipedia article on “The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy” needs to be corrected and updated. And I will be writing a new Roquelaure book in 2014. I’m working on it now.

She also made another Facebook posting referencing an article titled – We Were Kinky Long Before 50 Shades of Gray where she also referenced the new Claiming of Sleeping Beauty project.  Then picked up on Rice’s Facebook posting creating an article – Anne Rice to Write New Roquelaure Novel – which Rice promptly reposted.

30 year anniversary

“The Sleeping Beauty books are causing no end of excitement, really. It’s kind of amazing. I had no idea people would care that much.”
~ Anne Rice

When it was first released, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty seemed almost transcendent.  It was easily the best erotica I’d ever discovered.  I found it to be better written than The Story of O, far sexier than Venus in Furs, and much more relevant to my interests than either Lolita or Lady Chatterly’s Lover.  But that was then.  While they were certainly exciting reading in their day, to some eyes the original trilogy hasn’t aged especially well.  It’s been whispered in some circles that Rice obviously had an active and fertile imagination, but precious little (if any) real experience with BDSM.  I’m not sure that the erotic retelling of a fairy-tale calls for perfect realism, to be very honest.  And, it wasn’t Rice’s original ambition to be realistic, it was to write the sort of erotica she wanted to read herself.

I wrote it because I thought most pornography was 1) Victorian classics revived and repackaged or 2) Hack work by people who didn’t share the fantasy. So I decided to write the pornography I wanted to read, to prove that good S&M porn could be done without murder, burning, cutting or any kind of real physical harm; that a delicious pornography of detailed S&M games — dominance and submission, humiliation and love —- could be made, all of it with elegance, refinement, and some romance. I created a fairytale kingdom of luxurious chambers, gorgeous costumes, and handsome and beautiful royal slaves, a world filled with romance, some intrigue and a lot of detail as to sexuality. I wanted it to be fun.

And truly, great fun it was!

can it be the same?

claiming of sleeping beauty - bookcoverBack at the time of their release, Rice’s books seemed to be a revelation.  I once owned first printing copies of the entire series, and two of the three still inhabit my erotic bookshelf, albeit a bit worn around the edges.  And, it’s true that the Claiming of Sleeping Beauty trilogy literally helped some of us to find ourselves, and the BDSM community.  I used the series as part of introducing my ex-wife to BDSM back in 1989, and it was her penchant for loaning the series out to friends as a part of introducing others to BDSM that caused the loss of one of the originals.

Yet, I have to wonder, if after the passage of 30 odd years, if any return to the concept is likely to work.  I’m not alone in asking that question.  Once again, using Facebook as a source, here’s what sex educator, author, and publisher Janet Hardy had to say in response to Rice’s announcement:

 The Beauty books led very directly to my finding the scene, and to my career as a sex writer and educator – it’s not at all an overstatement to say that they changed my life. I wonder if the new one will work for me at all, or if I’ve left that newbie enthusiasm behind me.

Yes, books like the Claiming of Sleeping beauty were once life changing, and not just for folks like myself, they had their effect on Janet Hardy too.  With that said, in light of the entire 50 Shades of Grey phenomena, will simply being life changing ever be enough?  I’ll never consider E.L. James’ books to be life changing works of fiction, but there’s no denying that the phenomena was an agent for change at the societal level.  Never again will kink and BDSM be looked at in the same light, the vast popularity of the 50 Shades series even spawned a local billboard for an upscale eatery.  Would you have imagined, just a few short years ago, an ad campaign based on “Your Safeword is Meatloaf” as a slogan?

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