I came across another comment–which I approved–on my blog page today where one apparently disgruntled reader copied and pasted a sample of a sex scene from The Price of Freedom and then added his two cents in by saying succinctly: “This doesn’t excite me one bit. If this was published, I wouldn’t buy it.”
So it got me wondering: Is sex all people look for when they read a novel?
Because this just reminds me of a book I bought ages ago called Infectress by Tom Cool, which was a book about a covert female spy named Arabella who was after the world’s first thinking supercomputer. I don’t recall much about the book itself (since it’s been in storage for awhile now), but the female lead character in that book would often prostitute herself in order to achieve her said goals with the supercomputer’s head designer (owner?) in order to gain the inside track.
The book was a bit more graphic (and still is by today’s standards), but it’s not what drew me to the book itself. I didn’t really care how much graphic sex was in the novel or if the author was using powerful buzz words to get his reading audience excited or aroused.
What drew me to the the book was the plot and the fact that this covert spy creation of his was wildly imaginative and deadly. She had no morals or values that I could uncover. She would kill at the drop of a hat, or do things that would beguile the human imagination.
The sex aspect of the book was just a minor element in an otherwise fascinating read. And I couldn’t have liked it more than if I just read it for the sex.
The same can be said for The Price of Freedom. Like I’ve said before, I don’t write porn into my books. I write poetry. I take the overall beauty of the moment and do my best to convey the sheer power of the experience.
And since everything I write is like a movie running in my head, choreographing the act of romance and the sex becomes much easier than I anticipated. I can forget focusing on the precise movements or beats of each character during the interlude and just keep things simple and moving.
Give the reader something to draw their focus on with their minds–not just their ample imaginations.
But the sex in this novel is just a minor element and not a major player at all. What drives the novel primarily is the journey that both Kayla Sorenson and Kenneth Sparks has to undertake in order to achieve their said goals or missions. (That and their tumultuous relationship.)
Getting them to have sex with one another is just my way of rewarding them for a job well done at the end of the day. Not every pit stop they come across is another opportunity for a roll in the hay. In many cases, they just do the normal things that married couples do in their lives: Talk.
Spend time with one another. There is a reason why I space out specific sex scenes in the book: It’s to give the characters much needed breathing room. There’s going to be time for romance, time for sex, time to share passionate love with one another, but other times–especially in the world they live in–these moments are sometimes both rare and fleeting.
These two aren’t going to be having as much personal time in a short bit after they drop by for a visit with Kenneth’s aunt in Jonesboro–because of some unfinished (and very bloody) business happening down in Waco later on.
But if you read a lot of romance novels, you’d notice that most of these books are built around a singular premise of one or both characters being the “unattainable” gal or guy–with the other character trying to chase them down to wed them, bed them, or have sex with them.
And despite the fact that I find this cheesy, predictable, and often times boring, there is always something that is pivotal and daring in these books which keeps the novels moving and interesting. Nobody in these books has the time to introspect the finer points of a relationship–once it comes down to sex. Only because the majority of these novels we read are spent on building up the characters and the reader for one giant cheap thrill after another.
Nothing is sacred.
And neither is the sex. But this is what our minds and personal expectations are geared for because that’s what the author is trying to drive home.
So disappointment is abound when you come across a book that breaks all these rules and boundaries and you’re left thinking: “Whoa! Wait a minute here. This isn’t right.”
The Price of Freedom is such a book. It doesn’t have the same attributes as a regular romance novel, but it also doesn’t have the same tell-tale markers of a sci-fi/fantasy one either.
Things are bound to be different.
But what makes the book worthwhile–in my opinion–are the 40+ characters written into it like a large Shakespearean play. There’s a lot of people who have small and large parts in this novel and they are spread out over the course of the book to engage the reader on a number of levels–each with their own little story to tell.
Which makes things more interesting than boring or bland. As for the sex scenes…? They aren’t you’re standard run-of-the-mill variety. You have passion, you have tension, you have feeling and you have emotion. It may not have the same effect on you as say some guy driving it home into the woman he’s presently engaged in, but that’s not the reason why it’s written in there in the first place.
We can all think and imagine sex to be pretty carnal and pornographic–to the point where it starts sounding pretty damned silly. (And I’ve come across plenty of examples of such.) Or where sex is supposed to be so arousing that it makes our hair stand up on end and our skin to break out into either goose bumps or a good old-fashioned cold sweat.
But if you’ve been following along with the chapters of this book, you’d note a curious lack of empathy or essence of the same sexual element that is commonly found in today’s trashy romance novels.
Because it’s not supposed to be there.
I didn’t want The Price of Freedom or its sex scenes to be just “like” everybody else’s. I wanted it to be different. Special. Something that would give meaning to the character’s lives and ongoing experiences.
If you want another prime example of how different sex scenes play out in a novel, you should start reading Kushiel’s Dart (of the Kushiel’s Legacy series) by Jacqueline Carey. Hers also focuses on the characters and the essence of sex. Not just the acts themselves, or how each is intertwined throughout the story.
Carey manages to pull off a wonderful display of prowess when it comes to the act of sex itself by showcasing to the reader how her main heroine uses her talents to charm and bewitch her paying patrons in the sheer ecstasy of the moment. Not just the sex aspect. But the moment.
Simply by using the emotions and the feelings of each of her characters to play things out. And it comes out all beautiful and breath-taking in the end because the sex becomes much more than just something primal and easy to get into on a simple level. Carey really showcases what it means to be this person of her heroine’s coveted stature, and how her skills and talents makes everything possible through the ample use of dance and choreography.
What I’m doing in my book is no different.