There’s a question I get asked a lot, and I got asked it again last week, so I thought I’d answer it here.
“What made you get into writing books like this?”
By “books like this,” I didn’t know if he meant Seduce Me or Lovergirl, but I knew what he was asking. He was asking why I write about sex.
It’s a complicated answer, but it’s also a simple answer. It started with a fascination with what I imagined other people were doing. Activities that I, in my boring existence, was not doing. That’s how Lovergirl started, with a fascination about women with the power and nerve to take off their clothes in public. I get nervous taking off my clothes in private. I’m shy and awkward (yes, it’s true), so I love watching women who aren’t. So I started writing about and interviewing and meeting all these women who did what I couldn’t.
Seduce Me started in a similar way. I wrote about things I experienced, but then I made them more interesting, because my life was boring. So I’d see a guy on the subway, and I’d imagine what would happen if I only had a bit more nerve. Or I’d share an elevator with someone and my mind would wander off into what could happen if I was only a bit more like someone else.
So yes, elements of Seduce Me are autobiographical, but those are usually the boring bits. The other parts are the ones I make up because my head is a much more interesting place than my life.
They say you should write what you know. That’s nonsense. If that were the case, there would be no books about time travel or zombies or vampires, for starters. There would be no science fiction/fantasy/etc. I think you should write about whatever you can make up, as long as you can do it well.
The tricky part, though, is making it believable. And that, I think, is where you write what you know. The best authors are excellent observers of human nature, and human nature is the same everywhere. We’ve got maternal women, dickish dudes, sexy lesbians, introspective students, timid boys, badass babes everywhere.
So as long as you pay attention to them when you see them, as long as you notice how people react and how they behave, it doesn’t matter if they are fighting their father or a pack of zombies. They are still, at the heart of it, human beings. They love and they fear and they hate and they worry and they desire.
But for me, specifically, the fun part about sex is that I can get rid of all the other nonsense and cut right to the bare essentials. I’m not interested in zombies. I’m interested in people and what they want and who they really are. After all, when we take off our clothes, we’re naked. That’s when it gets real.