Killer Year–The Class of 2007

Sex Peeves
October 14, 2006, 9:43 am
Filed under: Bill Cameron, Killer Year Members

It’s Saturday, which strikes me as the perfect day of the week to talk about a topic of momentous import to us all: our pet peeves.

But since this is a blog post and not the Oxford English Dictionary, I’ve decided to limit myself to my two current reigning peeves. I want you all to have a chance to get out of here before lunch, after all.

So here they are: first-time sex and hackers. One of them has to be about sex, because that way people will find us on Google who had no idea they were even looking for us. It’s a marketing thing, really. In fact, some may assert that’s a peeve of their own. “Hey, are you marketing at me? I came to read a blog post and here I am being lured into reading entire debut thrillers and mysteries to be published in 2007 by the Most Dangerous Debut Novelists of the Year. (Help, help, I’m bein’ repressed.)” Something like that.

But that’s not my peeve. If it’s your peeve, you’ll get a chance at the end of the post to give me my comeuppance, especially if you arrived here via a Google search for “magnificent man-thing.” Look at it this way, at least I’m not marketing to you via spam, such as the one I got this morning from “Counterfeit Diamagnetic Deerkskin” (who would name their child such a thing. Besides Tom Cruise, I mean?) Counterfeit offered to make me a “pornstart,” which was a compelling offer, but had nothing to do with my pet peeves. Except maybe the sex part. And that’s what I’m talking about here.

I think.

Okay, so what’s the deal with sex scenes in novels? Particularly first-time sex sex scenes.

I was reading a novel last night, a very good novel in fact, when suddenly I was confronted with a mighty, tumescent, sweat-soaked computer hacker. This guy could hack anything. And when I say anything, I mean not only banks and the NSACIAFBI, but also (probably, since this wasn’t specifically mentioned) into the picture and movie section of dozens of porn web sites offering you instant access for only $24.95 per month. Which, if that’s what you came looking for via Google, sorry, but we’re not talking about porn. We’re talking about pet peeves and crime fiction. Serious business. But you’re welcome to stay. And buy our books starting in January. (Help, you’re being repressed.)

Now, you probably have many questions, the first of which is, “Bill, are you drunk?” and the answer to those questions is yes. But you’re probably also wondering about the hacker thing and what it has to do with first-time sex. As if hacking a porn site wouldn’t explain it.

The thing is, the super hacker reminded me of another book I read earlier this year, one which had another thing which, like super hackers, seems to appear just a tad too often in novels — if you ask me. Which you might if I gave you the chance to get a word in edgewise.

And that’s this.

Where were we?

Oh yeah, first time sex. So I was reading this book a few months ago, and He and She have an “encounter” on an “island” and performed an “act.” Okay, they hooked up in a bar, went back to the dude’s hotel room and went at each other like folks might have done in a movie called “Snakes in Elaine.” * tick, tick, tick * (Sheesh, they had sex.) And the moment of consummation arrived, as they so often do. And it was great. I mean, it was incredible. The man? He had the stamina of a marathon runner and the self-control of a zen master. The woman? She moved in perfect rhythm with her partner and was able to communicate without words just the right moment so the man knew to release the hounds (as it were) for utter and perfect simultaneous bliss. It was as if they had known each other for years, knew each other’s every need and nuance. It was as if they were born already a synchronized, well-lubricated machine. I mean, this couple had been fucking since the dawn of time and by golly we were gonna read about it.

And the thing is, that happens all over the place. Every time I encounter a first time sex scene in a novel, it’s almost always cosmically great sex. At first I thought it was probably a guy writer thing, but then it occurred to me that the 8 of the last 10 mysteries I’ve read have been by women. Now, not all of them had sex scenes, but those that did had the basic theme nailed. The man “takes” her. (Where? To the movies? Dairy Queen?) He’s a turbo stud. She’s multi-orgasmic. They wonder how they lived without each other for so long.

And half the time one of them is a super hacker. Hack into anything. Now, I happen to be a hacker myself. Not too long ago I hacked a hole in the back yard with a pick axe to plant a butterfly bush, which promptly died because it turns out our soil is made of ceramic. Hence the need for a pick axe. But the point is I know about hacking, and I know that you don’t just dial 4-1-1 on your wireless telephone and ask for “hackers.” They’re not everywhere, certainly not as ubiquitous as the “magnificent man-things” (go Google!) which penetrate so many “she-holes of bliss,” or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

So here’s my question: what’s up with that anyway? Aren’t mystery novels allowed to have ordinary first time sex? Bad first time sex? Awkward I-can-never-face-you-again-and-oh-shit-where’s-my-wallet sex? Why is it always “he took her and their lives would never be the same” sex? And what if you need access to someone’s secret computer files but there wasn’t a hacker to be found for five hundred miles (because they’re busy surfing porn)? Would that be so bad? Maybe you have to just take your pick axe in there and bust the bad person’s computer open the old fashioned way? It’s not like you have to worry about being caught. The bad person (note that I am using gender neutral language to allow for the fact that even women can be eeevil) is off having great first sex with some stranger they met at a beach bar on a Caribbean Island while . . . well, anyway, you know where I’m going with this. And am I peeved.

Okay, your turn.

Bill Cameron
Author of Lost Dog
Available April 2007


13 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I write for a publisher who wants very candid language in sex scenes, so there’s none of this ‘taking’ shit. But the sex does have to be good, because that’s what the customers are paying for. Yes, I’m okay with whoring myself as a writer for cash *grin*

Comment by Tracy

It hurts to laugh this much, Bill, damnit. You really nailed, er… um… got this one right. I just read a novel with both a hacker *and* mind-blowing first-time sex, so it’s everywhere. Maybe it’s a new genre no one told us about? (Love the google search strings, by the way.) You google-porn-meister-you.

Comment by toni

I think the best ‘sex scene’ ever written was in Cold Granite. 🙂

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

I used to rely on my email inbox for all my porn needs, but turns out that’s just the tip of the, er, ice berg. Yeah, that’s it. What kind of tip did you think I meant?

Comment by Bill Cameron

I’m speechless.

Comment by m.g. tarquini

Bill, the problem with writing about bad first-time sex is that we all have (or have had) that kind of sex, and reading about it reminds us of how awful it was for us– and who wants to be reminded of that?
Besides, at least in my case, my hero is a smarter, handsomer, sexier, better-at-everything version of myself, so of course he’s going to have better sex than I ever do.

Comment by Neil Plakcy

Folks, we all need to stay on the positive side of this. Awkward, embarrassing first sex is still sooooooo much better than no sex.

Comment by Victor Gischler

Victor, that is a truth for the ages. And, Mindy, I hope it’s a good kind of speechless. And, Neil, you bring up an excellent point. Hmmm.

Comment by Bill Cameron

The only thing that comes to mind is that we are talking about FICTION!!!! In a world that is all make-believe anyway, let’s just make believe that all sex is magnificent and get on with it. I read to step away from reality for a time, and unless it is intended to be funny, ho hum sex just does not take me to another place.

Comment by Barbie

Sex is so hard to write! I agree with Barbie, unless a bad sex scene is meant to make me laugh, then I want to vicariously experience amazing, mind-blowing sex. I damn well better be taken, and it sure as hell better be perfect! *grins*

Funny, Victor. And true!

Comment by spyscribbler

While, of course, my post was meant to be a bit tongue-in-cheek, Barbie and Spyscribbler point to a more serious point. I would say I don’t disagree, but I think the sex scenes I’m reacting to tend to exist for their own sake, rather than for the sake of the story. “This is a thriller with a stud or a babe and at some point they have to have great sex.” Yeah, whatever.

I would never deny someone great sex, even imaginary beings, but I don’t necessarily have to see it unless it’s doing other work in the story. If ho-hum sex moves the story forward, or illuminates character, I would much prefer it to great sex that’s just great sex. Fiction is, at its heart, about problems. And where’s the problem in great sex?

That said, I don’t want to sound like I’m against sex in fiction, or even good sex in fiction. What I’m against is formulaic good sex in fiction, and what makes it a peeve is that I think I see it too often.

Comment by Bill Cameron

I’m just grateful someone’s having great sex, even if they are characters in a novel. I need to at least be able to read great sex, goodness knows I’m not having it….did I really just say that? Oh well…..:)

Comment by KDuba

Oh God. The only thing worse than bad sex is writing about it.

Comment by Kerry Schooley

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