A woman who was in and out of a hospital during her teenage years revealed how she found solace and learned about the world from books – then wrote her own saucy book to break barriers.
Jade May found out she had Crohn’s disease at 13 “right on the cusp of becoming a teenager and a woman”, she revealed to news.com.au.
“To be honest, it was pretty rough. I suffered from severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, I had joint pain as well as mouth ulcers. I had severe malabsorption problems,” she said.
“I also had an incredibly painful bowel obstructions, and have needed surgery.”
During one of her surgeries, Jade was left in the ICU for two months and almost died from complications.
She said the hospital stays – which at minimum were a week long – meant she missed out on a lot of milestones growing up: family celebrations, sleepovers with friends and awkward first kisses. She had issues with building relationships and poor body image as a result of her chronic illness.
“While everyone else was having fun and generally being teenagers and exploring intimacy for the first time, whereas my teenage years revolved around hospital beds and surgeries and MRIs,” she said.
So, she turned to books in a bid to escape dull hospital rooms.
“I loved getting swept up in fearless adventures and lost in the world of the supernatural. Anything with vampires, werewolves and dragons, were my jam,” she said.
“I didn’t get to experience life like what everyone else was doing. And as I got older, my preferences shifted towards more mature things like epic romances, but with lots and lots of spice.”
She said it was still about escapism, but a different time. This was her way of catching up with what her peers were experiencing. It was her way of learning about relationships and sexuality as she was unable to experience it in real life because of barriers place not only on herself but by others.
“We all need some form of intimacy, whether it’s emotional or physical in our lives,” she said.
“Yet somehow society views people with a disability or with a chronic illness as someone who doesn’t experience sexual feelings or desires. We are not seen as having the same needs or yearnings.”
It was a belief held by society that frustrated her to no end, and was perpetuated by media everywhere. There was no one in film or television that had Crohn’s disease or a colostomy bag or a wheelchair that were having epic romances.
So, after reclaiming her own sexuality in real life after years of learning what she wanted in books, she decided to write her own erotic novel during Covid in a bid to show everyone has desires.
“There’s so many ways where these books have helped women, myself included, and I think it’s just so powerful,” she said.
“And I think there’s a bit of a stigma around it that needs to change even though it’s one of the best-selling categories on Amazon. Women are devouring it yet no one’s talking about it.”
It took her two years, and she had no formal training in creative writing, but publisher Wild Rose Press loved it and Tempted By Eden was born.
“It’s an enemies-to-lovers story, and it’s got a hint of kink and touch of angst and includes a happily ever after,” Jade said.
“It’s basically centred around a woman named Cora who finds herself living a double life as she works at a kinky gentlemen’s club by night and as a PR specialist by day.”
Jade wants the novel to be a space for anyone who wants to explore sex and kink in a safe space so they can figure out what they may or may not like.
For instance, she was told by one person that erotic fiction saved her from a religious and purity upbringing.
She also wanted the book to start a conversation that everybody craves and deserves intimacy, no matter what invisible or visible conditions they may have.
Tempted by Eden is currently available for pre-order and will be available to purchase from October 10