“Half the bloggers we approached aren’t interested in your book.” – blog tour host
“Why not?” – baffled author
“Too much sex.”
“Too much? In this day and age of fifty shades of erotica?”
“We were surprised too but there’s nothing we can do.”
It wasn’t as if I planned to write a novel with sex in it, I wasn’t trying to tap into some trending topic ju jour, it just happened.
Yeah, right. You just happened to write a book that you have banned your mother and sister from reading — that book just happened?
I swear it did! Much like a minister without a portfolio, I am a writer without a genre and I never know what book is going to pop up next and a few catalysts intersected and the result was the sex-filled A Glittering Chaos.
Young lady, you’ve got some ’splaining to do… what catalysts?
I had just finished promoting West of Wawa, and everything had gone very well. The book had been extensively featured on the Chatelaine book club but a criticism had been offered, one that stuck like a burr under a saddle; there weren’t any sex scenes and the book club felt that there should have been. That was the first catalyst.
The second was my husband’s and my trip to Las Vegas, which is where my husband bumped into a woman in the elevator who couldn’t speak any English.
When he told me about his encounter, it was as if a lightbulb went off in my head and in a way, the whole novel was just there, and it was a perfect vehicle for me to address Chatelaine’s sex-scene critique! I admit I had been a little upset by Chatelaine’s comment; did they think I couldn’t write sex scenes? Of course I could! I never had, mind you, but I was certain I could, and I was going to show them!
Once the novel was written, to my mind (and my publisher’s mind), the sex wasn’t the main focus of the story. The key theme of the novel was empowerment and self-realization, both of which can come later in life than one expects, if in fact it ever comes at all.
Melusine, protagonist, had no idea that her life was lacking until she went to Las Vegas. Her inability to speak English felled the first domino and from that followed a dramatic unfolding of events; her affair, her husband Hans’s ever-increasing foot fetish, his autoerotic asphyxiation, his preoccupation with his vanished sister, the ‘helpful’ assistance by a psychic and his subsequent crazy spiral into madness.
As Caro Soles pointed out in her post (Mesdames of Mayhem, 3rd December), “novels are all about people, and sex is a part of who we are. What a character does in bed may show something about him or her that no other scene could properly convey” which is exactly why there was sex in A Glittering Chaos – it was in no way gratuitous ornamentation, it was key to Melusine’s emotional development, and it was also key to Hans’s mental breakdown.
I would in no way consider myself the writer of sex novels. My fourth novel will be launched in April of this year, The Witchdoctor’s Bones, and, of the four, the only novel with sex is in A Glittering Chaos – it was simply the novel for it!
Using sex in writing can be very effective without having graphic description of the act; sexual orientation, as well as who’s doing who and why, can a very handy tool in plot development; affairs, relationships, predilections, misunderstandings, reasons for murder and even, plot resolution.
In Thirteen, which is a wonderful anthology of short stories by a collection of brilliant writers, Joan O’Callaghan’s Sugar ’N Spice offers an excellent twist in the tale, proving that a prime suspect couldn’t have been the murderer, by virtue of his sexual orientation.
I use sex similarly in my next novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones. While there are no sex scenes per se in The Witchdoctor’s Bones, there is a lot of sexual obsession, romance and affairs of the heart, which helped shape the plot and define the characters.
If there’s one rule I employ when writing, it’s this; never sanction anything. I let my brain go anywhere it likes, to the darkest corners of the human psyche, to the most abhorrent of behaviours. I might edit bits out later, but when I am penning that first draft, I let the darkness spread its wings and fly!
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has been a Canadian citizen since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.
Her first novel, The Hungry Mirror, won the 2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and was long-listed for a ReLit Award. Her second novel, West of Wawa won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and was one of Chatelaine’s four Editor’s Picks. West of Wawa is available in bookstores and online.
Her third novel, A Glittering Chaos, launched in Spring 2013 to reader and review acclaim, and is about murder, madness, illicit love and poetry.
Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones will be launched Spring 2014. The Witchdoctor’s Bones is a thriller about the darkest secrets of African evil; the novel seamlessly weaves witchcraft and ancient folklore into a plot of loss, passion and intrigue and a holiday becomes a test of moral character.
All books published by Inanna Publications.