A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Let's talk about sex

To the writers out there, how do you deal with sex in your stories? I don’t mean actually writing sex scenes. I mean having people read your sex scenes. Specifically, having people you know read your sex scenes.

Does it embarrass you? Do you worry about it? Does it affect your writing?

I have a friend, a well-published author, who writes sex scenes into most of her romance novels. She lives in a small town and has a fairly high-profile day job. It can lead to squirmy situations, like when her (male) colleagues tell her they’ve read her books. Her husband, by the way, doesn’t mind at all. He claims he helps with all her research.

We all know that we have to shoo the editors out of our writing spaces (or in my case, off both my shoulders) before we sit down to write. You have to write the story that’s in you to write, with no regard to the outside world, and if that story contains sex, well, so be it. It’s afterward, when the book is published and everyone who knows you reads it—that’s when things can get a little weird.

Have you ever received comments about the sex scenes in your stories? Do people studiously avoid mentioning them? Do you care?

Have you ever NOT written a sex scene—or anything else, for that matter—for fear of what “they” (parents, siblings, friends, colleagues…) would think or say?

And if we’re being honest—we are being honest, aren’t we?—we could ask the same question about other types of scenes, or even characters. What if you’ve written a gory scene? Or an exceptionally violent one? What if your character is racist, or bigoted, or misogynistic?

Now let’s flip it around. To the readers out there, do you feel that what the writer has written reflects on her? I mean, those ideas—nasty or sweet—came out of her head. They must reflect what she thinks or believes.


Or maybe the writing reflects what she sees around her, or what makes her mad, or what delights her.

That’s what I’m going with.

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Wynter Daniels said...

Good post. Since much of my work is erotic, I've had to deal with this once or twice;-) I had a friend tell me she couldn't read any more of my books because she kept picturing my hubby and me in the scenes. The only person I hate to have read my sex scenes is my dad. Hubs tells everyone he's head of R&D;-) said...

First off, Marcelle, I tell my husband he is definitely the inspiration for each and every such scene. Though that said, the sex is not as much of a feature in my cozy mysteries as it was in my historicals. I mean when you have murder on your mind. . .

Second, I tell my starchier acquaintances that sex is a natural part of life. Not to include it is falsifying reality. Though that said, I do leave out scatalogical details.

Anyway, to get back to the sex scenes, I had a prof in college who thought Henry James was the greatest fiction craftsman who ever penned a book. I can remember saying but "everything takes place in the drawing room. People actually live in their kitchens and bedrooms." I still believe that, so write away, Marcelle, you have a lot of literary precedent for being sexy--excluding Henry James.

Anne Marie Becker said...

It can definitely be awkward, but I remind myself sex is a healthy part of life, and an expression of a deep connection between the hero and heroine. That helps (usually). LOL

Rita said...

I simply don't understand people who find sex repugnant and but don't mind violent acts against other humans.

Elise Warner said...

Marcelle: Found your blog fascinating as Scene Stealer had no sex. A new novel--and my first with sex--is about to make the rounds. My doctor says Americans are much more uptight about their bodies--guess he's right.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Wynter, I know exactly what you mean: I wouldn't want my parents reading my sex scenes. If I had any.

Jean, you are a very wise woman. :-)

Anne Marie, you're absolutely right. Sex is a healthy part of life. I'm not so sure about the misogyny, racism, etc...

Rita, ditto.

Oh, Elise, you've touched on a whole other discussion point. We Canadians are constantly comparing attitudes between English Canadians and French Canadians--everything from swearing to sex. Makes for interesting dinner conversation. :-)

Clare London said...

Great post! I'm afraid (?!) most of my books have sex in them. I like to read and write it. Of course the difference with me is that I write in M/M - so I'm pretty sure no one ever imagines hubby and I in the roles - or hubby with anyone else, for that matter LOL.

But you raise a serious point, that some readers or commenters can't seem to see past the sex. I've always been told that a good author will always make sure the sex progresses the plot or characters in some way. It shouldn't be gratuitous.

And if you're talking about different countries' attitudes - what about us repressed Brits?? LOL

Anne Brooke said...

I must admit you lost me entirely at the statement that everyone a writer knows reads their books. Um no - very few people I know read my books, probably because most of them are gay erotic fiction and my friends and colleagues usually find that hugely embarrassing - though occasionally they do apologise for not reading them, bless 'em! They also find it rather embarrassing that I have another job at all, beyond the one they know me in.

Heck, even my fellow local writers won't read my work with sex in it - though now and again they will read my Christian, literary or children's fiction. It's all very odd.

Anne B

Clare London said...

Leaving aside the M/M / M/F issue, it makes me slightly bemused when people don't want to read sex in a book, in a blanket-ban kind of way. Many readers like to read about romance and love, and sexual/intimate scenes should just be a part of that. I really think sex can add a huge amount to the central romantic couple, if it's in context.

I think the problem is that "sex" in a book is considered equal to highly explicit, often crude, often embarrassingly-written activities :).

And then of course, I think a lot of people *do* like to read sex, but are reluctant to admit it. God bless e-readers, eh?? And after all, we're not asking them to read it *aloud*...

Like Anne, I don't have many homespun readers, which I think is the unfortunate legacy of the M/M genre. Yet it's growing in popularity, and with ALL readers, het or gay. It still seems readers won't read things they can't imagine - or have never come across - in real life. Yet they happily read vampire and slasher killer and fantasy fiction :) *rolls eyes*.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Clare and Anne -- thanks for sharing. Sex still casts a big shadow in many cultures. Maybe that's what makes it so interesting to write about, eh?

Clare London said...

Well said Marcelle, and probably very true! :)

Toni Anderson said...

Marcelle, I just spent a few weeks with my inlaws and my father-in-law kept referring everyone to page 255 of The Killing Game when anything pertaining to love or romance came up in the conversation. It was all in good fun but that's the least sexually graphic book I've written!

I don't have a problem with it any more (but I don't want my dad reading my sex scenes either :)).
I've come to expect that weird 'judgement' I guess it is, and move on. No one cares about the violence. Ever. People care about the swearing and the sex. I just feel it reflects on society as much as it reflects on me. There's this social pretence almost. A dissociation for some people about how romantic relationships develop. From a biological point of view it's nonsense. However, I do think people should read what they want to read and write what they want to write. :)

Marcelle Dubé said...

Amen, Toni! Couldn't have said it better myself.

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