Writing sexy books is not for the faint of heart. And not even because of the inevitable questions about your research methods, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
Since we can all use a few laughs these days, I thought I’d share some of my most memorable I write those books moments with you.
To this day, my favorite is when my daughter was in middle school about the time that I started writing as J. Kenner, a brand that is significantly steamier than my previous Julie Kenner books. Release Me had just come out, and Random House was marketing it as being very much in the vein of Fifty Shades of Grey.
This wasn’t something I’d directly told my then-sixth grader, but she’s a bright kid and had obviously picked up on that from conversations around the house. I should add that I live in a small Texas town that was much, much smaller seven years ago.
One day, she’s at school, and her class is in line for the lunchroom. She’s at the end, chatting with a friend. Her teacher, we’ll call him Mr. Smith, is about thirty kids in front of her. All. The. Way. Down. The. Hall.
I’m not sure how it came up, but apparently she and the guy standing next to her were talking about their parents’ jobs. And when he asked what I did, she said I was a writer.
“Cool. What does she write?”
“Books like Fifty Shades of Grey.”
Well, she didn’t know, having only read my all-ages-appropriate Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom series. So she bellows … “Mr. Smith, what’s Fifty Shades of Grey?”
All heads turn. Teachers pop out of classrooms. The world stops spinning on its axis. Yeah, like that.
(For reasons that defy explanation, I was not asked to come in and see the administration. I also don’t believe I’ve ever made eye contact with Mr. Smith since.)
About the same time, one of my neighbors in my cul-de-sac read Release Me and the books that followed, then cornered me one day and asked if my husband and I “did all the stuff” in the book.
I’m pretty sure Stephen King never gets that kind of question. And no one has ever asked me if I kill demons in my spare time.
But I just smiled and told her that if we did everything I would have no time to write the books.
Keep ‘em guessing. That’s my motto.
What I didn’t tell her was how much research goes into writing sex, especially if you’re working hard to have each scene have it’s own unique feel and purpose. (I.e., if you want to mix it up a bit. Or if the characters have a particular kink, or whatever).
The point being, my browser history is a thing to behold, and not just because of the sex. I also write a lot of suspense into my stories. So I’ll research sex (and get all sorts of really, really interesting spam) and then I’ll research something like money laundering or prostitution or human trafficking.
(Note to the FBI. It’s RESEARCH. I have the receipts!)
My oldest daughter, now a senior, loves her Fifty story because she is my drama queen who likes things that are a bit awkward.
My youngest daughter, now a freshman, is the exact opposite. Talk of sex makes her want to crawl under a table, and anything remotely embarrassing is the worst thing ever.
There we were last summer heading to Disney World. I was writing a Nikki and Damien novella (Indulge Me). Nikki and Damien are the hero and heroine from Release Me, the book I mentioned above, and though that series was supposed to be a trilogy, the characters were so popular that it has grown into six full novels and about a dozen novellas.
To say this couple has a fabulous and active sex life would be the understatement of the century.
Anyhoo, I was trying to finish the book before the insanity and exhaustion of Disney kicked in, so I was working on the plane. My husband was sitting across the aisle and I was sitting between our two girls.
Now, having suffered much in the past with random neighboring passengers reading my stuff—and commenting on it! —I had bought one of the screen protectors that blocks vision from an angle.
Or so I thought.
I check on the oldest. She’s got her eyes closed listening to music.
I check on the youngest. She’s playing a game on her phone.
I fire up the screen-protected laptop and open the file to the scene I’m working on. The font is huge because my eyes are terrible. And it’s a very sexy scene. (I have a habit of leaving sex scenes to the end for a variety of writerly reasons, and so I didn’t really have a choice if I wanted to finish up this book before Disney).
But, hey, the kid is occupied, right? And I have my screen protector, right?
And so, yes, I dive in.
I write and write and, okay, yeah, it’s definitely hot in an all-caps kinda way.
I keep sneaking peeks at the youngest, who is absorbed in her game.
Whew. Done. Close the laptop.
Life is good.
The next day, we’re in line for the Avatar ride, and I get a call from my publisher. I mention finishing a really hot scene on the plane, promise to review the book that night and send it in, and end the call. But my youngest is giving me a look.
I ask her what, and she just shrugs. So I tell her that I finished the final scene of the book on the plane.
She looks at me and says, “I know.” Beat. Deadpan stare. “It was very disturbing.”
So, apparently, I have warped both my children. And, also apparently, I really should get a refund on that screen protector.
And the next time I’m on a plane? I think I’ll blow off writing and just spend the time watching downloaded episodes of Lucifer.