Monday, March 29, 2010

Contrasting Sexual Dilemmas

I'm grappling with a dilemma that is purely of my own making right now. This post is probably going to sound a little self serving on. I think you'll get the idea as I go along.

In the past couple of days, in discussions with both a prominent Adelaide radio station and the book shop in my home town that is hosting
my official launch, I am starting to fret a little over one aspect of the novel which - I feel - has a legitimate place within it. It serves an important purpose. Although I wonder whether it might begin to work against me.

Early on in
The Hambledown Dream, there is a sex scene that takes place - quite a strong sex scene, in fact. It's fairly explicit in it's presentation to the reader and it leaves the reader with very little to the imagination. While it's not violent per-se, it is graphic - and there is a good reason for it to be that way.

I did little research into sex scenes or how to write them in preparation for my own. I knew what I wanted to achieve from it and it was a scene I wrote completely on the fly. The aim of the scene was to contrast two very different sexual acts that are occurring simultaneously.

One is a very angsty, angry, primal sex scene between the protagonist and his lover. To paraphrase comedian Eddie Murphy "they don't make love - they fuck". And while it is not blatantly violent, this sexual act does flirt very close to the line of violence...but I couldn't cross over it. In the first incarnations of the scene, I actually did cross into some fairly dark and primal territory but I had to pull back. I discovered that I do have limits.

While this is going on, a second and very different act of sexual expression is taking place. But it is a world away from what I have described just now. It is a tender love scene - a gentle and lyrical expression of physical love between two people that has a softness about it, an understated, seductive passion. A truth, if you will.

The scenes occur simultaneously because they serve as the beginning point for a series of revelations my central protagonist bears witness to on his journey through the narrative. It is hard to describe without giving too much of the plot away, but for those of you who have read The Hambledown Dream already, (I hope) you'll know what I'm getting at.

The scene was never meant to be gratuitous, nor pornographic. It was always meant to be strong - to challenge the reader. And, personally, I think I have achieved that.

But here's the dilemma.

In my quest to become terribly wind swept and interesting (i.e. famous), I have put the feelers out into what I would consider some unlikely places. One of those places is a radio station here in Adelaide called
Life FM.

It's a Christian radio station - no two ways about it. And I don't have any problem with that at all. While I don't regard myself as Christian (I would better describe myself as spiritual), I have a lot of friends - dear friends - who are and they are fans of the station. I listen to Life FM sometimes. It's a good mix of mainstream/Christian music, talk-back and news. Very positive, very community focused, not too preachy. And they do very well. They are the number four FM station in Adelaide - which translates into a significant share of the listening audience.

And they have a copy of my book in hand right now, with the intention of reviewing it, pursuant to an on-air interview in the next few weeks.

I have been in regular contact with a presenter there and she seems definitely keen to go forward - provided she can contextualize the book in such a way as would appeal to her Christian audience.

My biggest fear however...

She's gonna hit Chapter 4 (see! self serving - I told you), totally flip out, snap the book shut and bin it without a further thought or care. And she'll possibly email me saying - don't ever contact me again. The sex scene, the depictions of drug addiction and drug use will totally turn them off.

A good friend of mine - Dee, a Christian and prolific supporter of my novel - has assured me that I have nothing to worry about and she reckons they've reviewed far darker material than mine in the past. And when you consider the spiritual progression that occurs in the story line, spirituality becomes the dominant theme of The Hambledown Dream - not the sex or the drugs. Dee thinks I'll have it in the bag.

But still I worry - a lot - and do you know why?

Because I really want this interview.

Being such a prominent player in the FM landscape here in Adelaide, I am sure that a Life FM interview would really push my profile forward and open up a potentially large audience for the book. So, the more I think about it, the more stock I am putting in this opportunity.

The owner of the book store in my home town - who's hosting the official launch of the book in a few weeks time - expressed the kind of squeamishness I'm fearful of during a telephone conversation I had with her, yesterday afternoon. She currently has a review copy as well, which she is reading and she was kind of...breathless...mentioning the sex scene yesterday. Though not explicitly saying - "I think you should warn people on the day" she did say "I think you should warn warn people on the day" (well look at that...did I just do a double negative thingy).

I detected a definite "oh shit - maybe I shoulda read this thing first, before committing to this book event". But outwardly she is sill very much looking forward to the Stuckyvil...I mean...the Moe event.

And here I am worrying about this this when both my grandmothers have put their hands up for a copy of my novel.

I have warned them both though - there is some content within the book that will make their hair curl...without rollers.

But, as my Nana Mayes said to me on the phone recently (bless her world weariness) "I certainly wasn't born yesterday you know"


But, I'll wager they didn't throw the word clitoris around much back in the day.



  1. I so badly want to give you my opinion about this right now, but I'm going to save it for the actual review so you don't have to read it twice. ;-)

  2. Oh my word... this cracked me up! I know it probably wasn't supposed to be as funny as it was to me, but when you metioned Nana Mayes I totally lost it. My grandmother - "Mimi" - once loaned me a book, then said, "Just so you know, I skipped all those sexy parts." As she winked at me. Right, Mimi, I bet you did!

    I don't know what will happen with this, but your friend is probably right about them having reviewed much darker stuff. And any Christian will tell you that their lives can be - and have been - just as dark as anyone else's.

    And for crying out loud, people need to grow up and come to terms with the fact that, yes, sex does exist and yes, people have it and no, it's not always pretty.

    Let us know how it turns out!

  3. I can see why you are stressing but will it help if I tell you there is no point? They have the book they will either read it and either not interview you or read it and interview, or she could not read it at all relying on the press release for the information.
    If the poor Christians go out and buy the book and the devil gets in to their soul via your dirty writing then you will just end up in hell, meanwhile they will all buy your book.
    Maybe they will be so offended they burn your book imagine how many copies they will have to buy then!

  4. I just went back through my archive and happened on this post.

    They passed on the book by the way...