Why I’ve become sexually explicit
Let me tell you a secret. At one point in Dead Men, I closed a chapter without what my editor considered a suitable climax, for want of a better word. So he asked me to write a sex scene, so that “readers wouldn’t be disappointed, so they could see that the relationship had actually run its full course.” Being a debut writer, I duly obliged, albeit in a way I thought tasteful; no description of the mechanics of sex, but an intimation of intimacy. Interestingly, a Guardianreviewer noted that “He could also have lost the later sex scenes, which feel a bit dutiful.” Right on.
My agent for Dead Men isn’t into representing erotica, so he gave me his blessing to shop The Failed Assassin (31 Days of Shade) to other agents, where it is at the moment. I hope someone will pick it up, because I do think it is a worthwhile book. I could revisit it, and rewrite it without the explicitness, but it would lose its visceral energy, would lose the symphonic quality of its counterpoints between sex and love, between hate and love. At one point, the main male character says to the main female character, “You’re not planning on tying me up, are you?”, to which she responds with “I’m not that primitive.” For me, that encapsulates what I have come to believe of good erotic novels – they don’t have to be basic; they can and should reflect the human condition, just like any other great novels do.
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