There is a lot of explicit sex in Respite. Many would say that there is too much. But really, what is the “right” amount of sex for a novel like this?
A lot of – maybe most – modern mainstream fiction has at least some sexual content. In most of the fiction I read, it is more implied than graphic. The lovers meet, a passionate kiss, collapsing on the bed, then the chapter ends. The reader knows what has happened, but is left to fill in the details in her imagination. To me this is unsatisfying.
It is undeniable that most people are very interested in sex. And why shouldn’t they be? It is one of the most important motivators in our lives. In a very real and tangible way it connects us with all other life on earth. Lets us be who we are as humans, and as animals with a connection to our past and our future.
I also think that most people, with some exceptions, find nothing morally repugnant about sex, as long as it occurs between consenting adults. If you’ve managed to get through Respite, it is highly unlikely that you are a prude.
For those few who do find my graphic and detailed depictions of sex between loving, consenting adults to be offensive, I have a simple message: you shouldn’t have read the book. Of all the storytelling art forms – film, theatre, music – the written word is the one that requires the most effort by the audience. It is beyond easy to put down a book. Sure, you can leave a film, or skip a song, but that requires effort and decision. To not read or stop reading a book is actually easier than reading it. So if you don’t like it, stop reading. No one is forcing you.
I enjoy reading depictions of sex, but I am not a big fan of genre erotica, although I do read it occasionally. The sex can be enticing, spicy and well-written, but to me there is something missing. A lack of balance. I want to read about real people in genuine relationships, facing real challenges, experiencing real joys and sorrows. And having super-hot sex, described in exquisite and loving detail. Because that’s a real and important part of life too.
It also seems to me that most genre erotica depicts sex in a way that is unrealistic for most people. Sure, it can be hot to read about people fucking in a way that you probably never will. But sometimes the depictions are anatomically impossible or, even more commonly, unlikely to be pleasurable for one of the partners. This latter is a turnoff for me: sex should be a joyous experience for all participants.
So I don’t think there is too much, or even a lot of sex in my first novel. I think there is just the right amount. And it is sex between people who care about one another, who want to give each other that greatest of human pleasures. That to me joy to read and fun to write.