IN 2011 I published my first novel, The Importance Of Being Myrtle. It had been over a year in the making and, unlike other celebs who supposedly “write” their books, I actually wrote mine.
The story was about a 56-year old woman stuck in a coercively controlled relationship, whose husband dies suddenly.
We follow Myrtle as she discovers a new life and, hopefully, finds new love. I would say it’s available in all good bookshops, but I’m not convinced it is . . .
The point is that as I was writing the novel, I debated whether I should include sex scenes as Myrtle is unshackled and set free. In the end I decided not to.
There were two fundamental reasons — first, to my disgrace and utter shame, I felt that at 56 sex might not be at the forefront of Myrtle’s mind.
I am now a 53-year old woman and want more sex than ever before. So, my bad.
But second, and perhaps more poignantly, writing sex scenes can be tricky. A lot of accounts of “sexy time” are, in my opinion, singularly awkward, appalling, are misplaced and often don’t even make sense.
In many respects, it was a mistake to not include a little bit of sexually explicit literature because, quite frankly, why not? You can check out my latest, much lustier story (below).
She felt a surge in her very core
LAURA stared at the remains of the night before in the living room as irritation began to rise in her chest like a stubborn gripe.
She’d lost count of the times she had asked her son to clear up after himself.
How had Joseph got to 26 and still not understood the quid pro quo – gatherings with his friends at home required repayment in tidiness.
She had no objection to the boys hanging around the house; they were, after all, a sound bunch.
As she picked up the ashtray, she spotted the three menthol Marlboro fag butts and an image flashed before her from just hours before, when she had come down restlessly to ask them to turn the music down and Dean – tall, lanky with tousled dark hair – had got up to confront her in the doorway.
He had faced her, head on, and pressed his body against her just long enough for her to detect his smoky breath on her neck and momentarily feel the urgency in his tight jeans.
Then he had smirked, given a light laugh and walked off.
In that brief moment, a charge had travelled from the apex of her loins to her stomach; her eyes welled up and she exhaled, her shoulders collapsing.
Now, standing in the room full of stale smells and debris, all she felt was irritation and humiliation.
She turned on her heels and marched upstairs to her son’s room; flinging the door open and calling out: “Joseph! I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve . . .”, her sentence ended abruptly as she inhaled with greater force than she liked.
There, on the bed, lay Dean, naked with the duvet barely masking his hip bones. He had solid, sharp deltoids and one of his beautiful slender arms lay across firm abs.
She fixed her stare at his obliques, which seemed to peer through the cover as if to invite her in.
Her heart paced and belied her normal calm and measured self. Her hand dropped away from the door handle and as she turned to face the landing, Dean groaned.
“Hey, Mrs Goodfellow. Joe left early for work. Don’t go . . .”
She felt irked by his mention of her married surname, angered. She was no longer married but still carried the emblem of those years of dedication.
As she stepped out of the doorway, she heard the duvet rustle and before she had a chance to move away, she felt his presence immediately behind her.
Dean put his hand on her hip and turned her around, looked her in the eyes and gently pressed his full lips on her right cheek.
Her face flushed and without hesitation her fists clenched in some vain attempt at resistance. Laura pulled her face away and tried to move past him.
He grabbed her hand with a momentum that caused her to jolt. He swung her hand above her head.
She exhaled loudly; her breath hastened and she closed her eyes. With one hand holding her wrist firmly above her head, he used the other to sweep her shoulder-length hair aside and kissed her in a line along her neck.
His lips were warm, smooth and she felt a current surge from her very core, along her arms, rendering her hands helpless.
“I want you, Laura,” he whispered, “and I think you want me, too. Is that right?” he murmured.
She couldn’t speak. “I . . . I . . ,” was all that emerged from her lips.
“You what?”, he pressed.
“I . . . do,” she relinquished.
She felt his hands inside her jeans and groaned.
Her eyes burned and yet she felt a calm powerlessness overwhelm her, as if she knew where she was heading and no matter how much her head resisted, she realised surrendering was ultimately her choice.
Dean pulled her jeans down to her knees at which point she momentarily felt unease about her plain underwear.
But it passed because he didn’t seem to care, he wanted what was inside.
Laura’s body convulsed in anticipation; she felt dizzy and overtaken, consumed and her breathing quickened.
They devoured each other right there, in the hallway.
Without warning, the front door opened and someone called out: “I’m home!”
Most of us love a bit of titillation; we all love a thrill and a bit of breathlessness. And, ironically, shortly after my gentle, emancipating novel, a new book was published called Fifty Shades Of Grey — an unequivocal work of utter filth. Very successful filth, mind.
My tame little tale about a mature woman seeking a new life kind of paled into insignificance in the presence of an erotic romance about a dominant man and his whips.
So, I wondered what it takes to make a sex writer because my second novel will definitely not avoid it — it will be about it, it will explore it and will hopefully set pulses racing.
At the heart of it is a story of love, but sex will be unavoidable and inescapable. It will be integral to the storyline.
Who better to go to for advice then, than someone who does this for a living? I had a private little “session” with Rachael Stewart, who writes light erotica for Dare books, which is the sexy arm (leg and thigh) of Mills & Boon.
I think it takes great skill, anticipation, experience and sensibility to write sex scenes that have real meaning and own their place in the story.
I’m no shrinking violet but it can be tricky to articulate what is on your mind and between your loins and actually commit it to the page.
Rachael agrees. She is adamant that the first question you should ask is if you even need a sex scene.
You shouldn’t “crowbar” it in — it needs to feel like a natural part of the narrative and it certainly needs to progress the story you’re writing. There have been numerous occasions when I’ve had to suffer meaningless sex scenes in novels, which can also be awkwardly written.
No one wants that. I’d rather become a nun.
But it’s also crucial that, as a writer, you explore what potential risks there are for your characters during and after their “copulation”.
We all love a bit of tension — in a plot, in a moment, and during and after a climax.
Creating that is the key, surely, to drawing the reader in and making them beg for more?
Talking about begging for more, I was keen to know how it feels to be actually writing a sex scene.
Rachael was very direct: When you’re writing, it is important to be fearless — there’s no place for modesty because you really need to feel the tension and climax as if you’re having the orgasm yourself.
All I could think was that there must be worse ways to make a living.
But, of course novels, love scenes and sex scenes don’t write themselves.
The most crucial aspect — the make or break — is surely the language. Vocabulary is everything.
And let’s face it, as children we all grow up with nouns and verbs for all things physical and rude.
But it’s quite another establishing an adult vocab that hits the G-spot but doesn’t offend, turn off or alienate.
I’m pretty direct with my language and I like it that way — there’ll be no characters of mine “wafting past in a cloud of romance and enchantment; exchanging glances of intrigue, charm and titillation”.
I want there to be raw passion — the kind you feel coursing through your veins but which can be near-impossible to impart on a page.
You can’t revert to the biological terminology of your childhood when writing adult sex scenes — I mean you can’t have the hero “touching her frou-frou” or the heroine handling his “inky dinky”.
Rachael recommended me a few books to read for research and some guides to jargon and phraseology.
In many respects, I wonder how you can learn to write passion and lust when it is something that is such an individual experience.
Well, in for a penny, in for a pound . . . ing.
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