Monday, February 16, 2009

Writing Sex

I received a question recently that I think is more for authors than it is for me. However, I’m going to attempt to answer anyway and then open up the boards to you, because I think in many cases the best answers to the questions I receive can be found in the comments section and not in the response I give.

How do your authors whose work is more bluntly physical in its descriptions of intimate interaction handle people's inevitable tendency to assume the prose is recollected experience? Is it safer to become pseudonymous than have your friends and relatives start greeting you with "knowing smiles" and a cringeworthy nudge-nudge-wink-wink?

I assume you’re talking about the erotic romance authors I represent more than anything else. What’s interesting though is that a lot of my authors use pseudonyms and for a lot of very different reasons. However, it’s never dawned on me that some would use a pseudonym for fear that others might assume they write the sex scenes from experience. Now that you say that though, I think I admire a lot of my clients a whole heck of a lot more than I did before [wink]. Yes, I would imagine there are a lot of people out there who think my erotic romance authors, and many of my other authors, for that matter, have pretty adventurous lives. However, why would one assume that because you write about sex you’ve experienced it? Do you assume that a mystery author has discovered a dead body or that a fantasy author has traveled to another dimension?

I think the answer to your question, though, has to come from within. It seems to me that you might be uncomfortable with the sex in your book or the sex you’re writing, and if that’s the case then I have to ask whether you should be writing it at all. Even if you write under a pseudonym the goal is to be successful, which means that at some point people are going to connect you with that name. However, if you determine that what you are writing is in fact right for you and yet you are still uncomfortable with using your given name, then by all means use a pseudonym.

But let’s open this up to readers and authors. How do you handle this sort of reaction from readers?