If it seems odd that a woman in her 70s can write this stuff with such apparent know-how, that's due to her own reporting—in writing about BDSM, she's visited dungeons and interviewed many practitioners—in addition to her own sexual explorations. She and her husband would enjoy shopping at adult toy stores—"then we'd come home and open a bottle of wine and play with the toys," she says.
Her most recently published story is highly autobiographical. Bedroom Eyes features a woman who suffers from a rare condition that afflicted Holt for years, causing her eyelids to drape heavily over her eyes. "My mother used to tell me I had bedroom eyes," she says, "and I, like my heroine, wore tinted glasses all my life." Ultimately, both of them had corrective surgery. But in each case, it wasn't necessary. "I want you to know that I love what's inside," the hero tells the heroine at the story's end. And in Holt's case, her husband reassured her that he loved all of her, bedroom eyes or not.
Accepting one's body image is a theme that threads through Holt's work and her life. "I don't say that everybody has to have a model's body, because we don't. I certainly don't. But you first have to have a really healthy attitude about life. You have to have a healthy attitude about sex," she says, and that means taking care of your body as you age.
Holt, who is of the "age-is-just-a-number" mindset, uses a treadmill for one hour each day ("Some days it's like eating glass, but I do it anyway," she says), and regularly goes to the spa, and puts on makeup, the way her daughter has shown her. "If you look good, you will feel good," she says.
Right now, Holt is working on a series that takes place in a retirement community "like the villages of Florida, where you have to be at least 55 to live there," she says. "Sex doesn't stop when you turn the big 5-0."
Meanwhile, Holt plans to keep writing provocative stories with a goal in mind: "I want women to understand that sex is beautiful, that it is physically rewarding, that there is nothing to be ashamed of or afraid of as long as you are with the right person."
And once one is firmly ensconced with the right person, Holt suggests—in a spicy analogy—that people can explore sexuality by easing into it. "It's like eating a jalapeno pepper for the first time," she says. "Just bite off the tip, let the seeds explode in your mouth, and, if you don't pass out from the heat, take another bite."