The one where I write a sex scene…

23 February 2011

Well, I did it, I wrote a sex scene and am just about to embark on another. I call them ‘sex scenes’ rather than ‘love scenes’ because in my mind I read that as ‘luuuurve’ and oh, well, that’s just horrible isn’t it?

It wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be. No, actually it was a bit worse. Some of you tried to tell me that I didn’t need to have any sex in my book and often novels are better without it but I didn’t listen. Oh no, I went and did it anyway out of some misguided sense of completeness and also determination that this is going to be an grown up book for grown ups. It’s a bit galling though as I have now written two scenes of this nature in this book, both of which feature a character who was only supposed to be a bit parter but who has turned out to be a bit of a Valmont like philanderer. Eek.

I’m told that the point where your characters start to behave in unpredictable and unscripted ways is the point at which they have become fully ‘real’ and no longer one dimensional. I hope this is true, but I do wish that they would manifest their ‘realness’ in more milquetoast ways. And by that I mean ‘STOP DOING IT! DO AS YOU ARE TOLD!’

I wrote my first sex scene when I was just fifteen in a novel based on the poem The Highwayman. I was still a virgin at the time and had gleaned all of my information from Wideacre, Barbara Cartland and the novels of Jean Plaidy so it wasn’t altogether successful, as you can imagine. Sadly (!) this piece of genius (it wasn’t) juvenalia has been long lost but I still blushingly recall some parts of it, which I am not going to share with you now but needless to say, it was really, really awful!

Nowadays though I’m a bit more knowledgeable but there is still a hideous lingering suspicion that if I write anything too outré then the reader will assume that it’s what I get up to and totally lose all respect for me. Worse still is the prospect of my husband reading it and doing a little moue of disappointment and complaining that ‘you never let me do that!’

Yes, it’s a minefield all right.

Other than this Before The Storm is going very well. Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself. The action has moved from Georgian Bath to London and is about to move on again to lovely LOVELY 1787 Paris with shops and Marie Antoinette and Versailles and all sorts of gorgeousness.

Did you see what I did there? Yes, Before The Storm is the title of this latest opus. It came to me shortly after waking up this morning and seemed pretty perfect. It sort of comes from the famous quote by Madame de Pompadour of course – ‘après nous, le déluge‘ but I was also thinking of Guerlain’s perfume ‘Après l’Ondée‘ too because I adore Guerlain and I always think that scent smells like eighteenth century bordellos.

Of course, more aptly, the title fits because the book covers the years 1787 to 1791, the final years of the French aristocracy under Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and the last respite before the start of the Terror.

My characters are really growing on me now and I’ve been taking great pleasure in taking them to the beautiful Pump Rooms, rural Islington Village, dissolute Covent Garden, St James’ Park with its view of elegant Buckingham House and, most latterly, a fabulous masked society ball with Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire as the guest of honour. This book is a lot of fun to write – I just hope it’s as much fun to read!

I’m loving the research too but I’ll be talking a little bit more about that later this week!

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