QUIBBLES & BITS
Recently, somebody on one of my [many . . . too many] 'net lists said that it's okay to have graphic violence in crime fiction, but graphic sex is wrong, awful, intolerable, _______ (fill in the blank with your own negative word).
To which I say, "Cow patties!"
Sex in a novel (and I'm purposely using sex rather than "romance" or "relationships"), like anything else, is good or bad depending on how well or poorly the sex scenes are written.
Someone else - on the same list - said she simply skips the sex parts. And yet another poster said he "skims it."
Sure, okay, whatever.
I read sex scenes, every word. Not because I find it titillating, but because I know that a good writer will write good sex scenes for a purpose. And the purpose has something to do with the plot. Or characterization. Or both.
When I was asked by a St. Martin's editor to write a new mystery series, he insisted on a romantic interest for my female protagonist (with or without consummation). Because, he said, it sells more books.
I apologize in advance if this offends, but anyone who skims through sex scenes shouldn't be reading that particular book in the first place. As an author, I sweat just as profusely over sex scenes as any other scene, and I'd hate to think readers were skimming or skipping. And yes, of course my sex scenes are there for a reason. Everything in my mysteries are - or should be.
In my diet club mysteries, Ellie Bernstein has a healthy relationship with her homicide detective, Peter Miller.
In my Ingrid Beaumont/Hitchcock the Dog mysteries, Ingrid is in love with a veterinarian. Since her husband is in the witness protection program (which, by the way, is a great way to get rid of a character without actually killing him off), you could say Ingrid is committing adultery with her vet, Ben. So, okay, don't read Footprints in the Butter.
In my witch series - it's a "series" because I'm working on the second book - Sydney St. Charles doesn't exactly hop in and out of bed with strangers, and she only has one serious relationship per mystery, but she tends to fall in love/lust fairly easily, not unlike her 1692 Salem ancestor, Chastity.
Those are the stories I want to write and they won't appeal to everybody. But I'd go bonkers if I tried to please everybody. No sex. Yes, sex. No graphic violence. Yes, graphic violence. No talking cats. Yes, talking cats.
Only kidding. I don't write talking cats.
But talking parrots is a horse of a different colour!
As for my stand-alone mystery about an uptight actress possessed by a promiscuous demon. . .hmmm, maybe we'd better not go there :-)
Of all the fan letters and fan emails I've received over the years, I've only had one woman object, fairly vehemently, to the sex in one of my mysteries, which was much less "graphic" than the sex in my historical novels or my horror/mystery, FIFTY CENTS FOR YOUR SOUL.
I thanked the lady for her email and gave her a list of crime fiction novels that have no sex whatsoever. . .written by authors whom I admire. She didn't respond, but I pictured her falling off her chair.
It's a "Miracle on 34th Street" thing.
My quote of the week came about when I had a large-print offer for my first Ellie/Peter diet club mystery, Throw Darts at a Cheesecake, which was also my first published novel. Before I signed the contract, I asked if I could update and re-edit the book and they (Wheeler) said yes. So my quote is a double entendre.
"I'M A MYSTERY AUTHOR --
I WRITE WRONGS!" Denise Dietz
Over and Out,