Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Late Bloomers

Elizabeth Black writes in a wide variety of genres including erotica, erotic romance, horror, and dark fiction. She lives on the Massachusetts coast with her husband, son, and her three cats. Visit her web site, her Facebook page, and her Amazon Author Page. 

Her new m/m erotic medical thriller Roughing It is out! This book is a sexy cross between The X Files, The Andromeda Strain, and Outbreak. Read her short erotic story Babes in Begging For It, published by Cleis Press. You will also find her new novel No Restraint at Amazon. Enjoy a good, sexy read today.


I got a late start in the publishing world. I didn't publish my first story until I was 47. That story was Happily Ever After, which appeared in Scarlet Magazine in 2007. It was also my first erotic retelling of a fairy tale. Suffice to say Cinderella had married her Handsome Prince and all was not well in paradise. Her Prince preferred to torment the peasants instead of spending time with her. Their love life was in shambles. So, a Magical Sex Coach appeared to give her some tips in the lovemaking department. This man was not her Fairy Godmother. That woman wouldn't know what to do with Cinderella's problem if it came up and bit her on the ass.

I'm very proud of that story.

Sometimes I wonder if I waited too long to begin writing. After all, Billy Martin (known professionally as horror writer Poppy Z. Brite) published his first novel to critical acclaim when he was only 25. I've always been a late bloomer, but I wondered there was too much moss on this stone.

It turns out I'm not alone. There are many artists who didn't get their start until later in life. Here are a few examples.

Martha Stewart found success at 41 when she published her successful book Entertaining. Seven years late at age 48, she launched Martha Stewart Living and became synonymous with home d├ęcor.

Fashion designer Vera Wang started off as an accomplished figure skater. She didn't begin designing clothes until she was 40. I'm quite a bit like her in that I started out in the theater as a stagehand. I worked as a union gaffer (lighting), scenic artist and makeup artist (including F/X) when I was in my 30s. I didn't have much interest in writing then. I was all about the movies and television. I had wanted to be an actress until I discovered crew work 1) was steadier, 2) paid better, 3) was less damaging to your self-esteem and 4) had more respect than acting. I enjoyed my entertainment years and I don't regret the time I put into them at all.

Following my work in the entertainment industry, I was sidetracked into working as a feminist activist. Primarily, I wrote political and feminist essays and opinion pieces for publications like Sojourner, American Politics Journal, On The Issues Magazine, the blog fo the National Organization for Women, and Alternet. I was not often paid, but I found the work rewarding – for awhile. I was writing but not fiction. Not yet. I gave up activism after several severe disappointments in my chosen field that left me disillusioned with modern, mainstream feminism. I still consider myself a feminist but I do not like what the establishment and the mainstream large feminist groups have done to the movement. I gave it all up cold turkey around 2007 – which was about the time Happily Ever After was published. At that point, I switched from thankless activist work to working as a fiction writer and a non-fiction sex writer. Both were more rewarding and more fun. I also made money at it. That was an added, pleasant bonus.

Here are some other late bloomers:

Tim and Nina Zagat left their legal careers at age 42 to start their now famous restaurant guides.

Harland Sanders was an even later bloomer than I am. He had been fired from numerous jobs and could be considered a failure career-wise. But… when he was 62, he sold his first Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.

A contemporary of Harland Sanders didn't begin writing his first food and hotel guides until he was 55. When he was at the golden age of 73, he licensed the right to use his name to the company that developed cake mixes. You may have heard of him. His name was Duncan Hines.

More food-related news, Ray Kroc was past 50 when he bought his first McDonald's franchise. He expanded it to become the worldwide phenomenon it is today. Julia Child published her first cookbook when she was 39. She made her television debut in The French Chef when she was 51.

Daniel Knauf, writer and co-executive producer for The Blacklist and creator of Carnivale, didn't get his big break until he was in his mid-40s. I interviewed him for a podcast earlier this year. Here's the link if you'd like to listen in. He's a fun, fascinating guy who gave great information about the business of writing.

Charles Bukowski was 51 when he wrote his first novel, Post Office.

Charles Darwin was the ripe old age of 50 when he published On The Origin Of The Species.

And finally, for my list (there are many more), Samuel L. Jackson didn't start his motherfucking career until he was 46 years old when he starred in Pulp Fiction alongside John Travolta.

I'm going to turn 57 in March. I know I'm not too old to make it as a writer. I'm not as successful as I'd like to be, but I see now I have plenty of time. You don't have to be a child star like Mary Shelley who was 17 when she wrote Frankenstein or Bret Easton Ellis who was 21 when he wrote Less Than Zero. You can be a successful writer at any age.


  1. This is a great list of late bloomers, KD, and a great reminder that we never have to give up hope of becoming successful at something, on some level, as long as we're alive. I sometimes remind students in creative writing classes that Agatha Christie didn't start out writing murder mysteries, George Bernard Shaw didn't start out writing plays, and Lewis Carroll (Charles L. Dodgson) was a mathematician. And Mary Shelley was unusually well-placed for a woman writer of her time because she was the daughter of a famous philosopher/novelist and the author of "A Vindication of the Rights of Women," and the mistress (later the wife) of a published poet with prominent friends. Like a child star in a Hollywood family, she had access to resources that most writers of her age didn't. (Even still, Frankenstein was first published anonymously.)

  2. Thanks so much for the great comment, but I wrote the post Jean, not KD. :) You probably know J. K. Rowling started out on welfare, Did you know Charles Dutton spent seven years in jail convicted of manslaughter before he became an actor, and Brad Pitt chauffeured a limo for a strip-o-gram service before finding stardom? It’s never too late to go after a dream.

  3. The age of 47 doesn't seem that old to me.

    Seems as though we go through our lives trying out different roles and careers, until we find something that clicks.

  4. Agreed, Lisabet. 47 isn't old and lots of people try on different roles and careers. I read somewhere that the average person has 3 careers in a lifetime. I'm just getting started. ;)

  5. Elizabeth, I'm so sorry I called you K.D.! I'm not sure why I confused you.

  6. No problem, Jean. I'm actually honored you called me K. D. :) Happy New Year!


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