Yes, there IS sex in After the Auction.

Now, for those of you who haven’t bought or read it yet, doesn’t that make it more urgent?

But, no, I will not tell you what page it starts on. The book’s not that long. Even if you’re a reader who hunts straight for “the good parts,” it won’t take you that long to get there.

What might be construed as unique about the sex in my novel is that it’s sex for the after-60 set, a demographic I know intimately. And, at least in the opinion of one (unnamed) friend in the same demographic who read the book on a train, it was good enough to be a turn-on. On the other hand, a male friend of ours told my husband he thought it was pretty far-fetched and over the top (excuse the pun) to be realistic for our age group.  This being a guy-guy conversation, my husband said “writers only write what they know.”  Ahem…

So, you ask, what was it like writing this?  Did I think, perhaps worry, that it would reflect on my personal life experience? Mmm…a little (though, given reactions, that’s not a bad thing–certainly not for my husband, a self-described consultant on the sex text).  What was somewhat weird was working on this section with my developmental editor, Alan Rinzler, a gentleman of a certain age (roughly a year older than my husband), a veteran in the book business and, no doubt, in personal “experience.”  We had the most interesting exchanges via computer tracking/comment technology applied to my text.  I hesitate to be too graphic, but here is the gist of a few of Alan’s points along the way: “too mechanical,” “sounds painful,” “if she were facing…, it would be the  (YEAR I–Linda–GRADUATED FROM COLLEGE)  position.”    He used the number.  I remember thinking, “Yes, Alan, I know.”

So, in this process you want to be cool, hip, knowing, but how knowing?  Are you trying to impress your editor, for starters?  Are you hoping to turn on your readers?  And what determines success in sex scenes?

Ah, Google, the fount of all key words, even “writing sex scenes.”  This elicited a potential response of about 15 million entries.  I happened on one on the first page from writer Steven Almond.  It’s a 2003 piece in which he offers ten guiding principles.  Here are the first and the last.

#1 “Stop having sex. This is very important. Remember that the sexiest thing about sex is really desire, which is just a fancy word for not getting laid.”

And #10: “It is okay to get aroused by your own sex scenes. In fact, it’s pretty much required. Remember, part of the intent of a good sex scene is to arouse the reader. And you’re not likely to do that unless you, yourself, are feeling the same delicious tremors. You should be envisioning what you’re writing and — whether with one hand or two — transcribing these visions in detail.”

You can read the intervening eight tips on your own (but, trust me, I picked out “the good parts”).  As for what I wrote, I ran into Dr. Ruth Westheimer, whom I know as Miriam’s mother, and her longtime collaborator and publicist, Pierre Lehu, at Book Expo in May, and I’ve asked her to  take a look and approve!

In the meantime, I hope my sex scenes work for my readers, whatever their definition of that is.

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