Why Write Sexy? High Heat in Genre Fiction

I’ve written books that fall all across the spectrum.

No, not that spectrum.

I’m talking about sex scenes here.

Gail Carriger Why Write sexy High Heat in Genre Fiction

The 5th Gender, is sexy, Gentle Reader. It has a high heat level. Not all of my books do. They range with regards to how explicit they are. The Finishing School is at one end with a tiny bit of smooching, while the San Andreas books are at the other, in which everything is blue, including language and (occasionally) balls.

Most of my stuff falls somewhere in the middle. I enjoy writing a delicate sex scenes, ones where I challenge myself else not to name any parts but to simply allude to the the act euphemistically (many of the adult Parasolverse books) as much as a dirty one.

Here’s the thing.

I’m never asked why I don’t include sex in a book, but I sure am asked (or complained at) every time I do put it in.

How much? How sexy is this one? Is it appropriate for…. X?

Since I’ve made no bones (or should I say boners?) about the fact that I find the nookie parts challenging to scribble, the real question is…

Why write sexy books?

I write kissing books. I also write more-than-just kissing books. I write hot sexy explicit sexy AF books.

Want to know why?

Get ready, it’s flouncing time.

Imma gonna flounce all over this!

Gail Commences A Major Flounce!

  1. I write sexy because I believe fiction writers have a responsibility to culture. I consider it my duty to glorify different types of healthy adult sexual interaction.
  2. I write sexy because violence in fiction is lauded, revered, awarded, and magnified while sensuality, pleasure, joy, and humor are not and that’s wrong.
  3. I write sexy because conversation between characters about sex is hot and needs representation in fiction. Because we should all talk about desire with our lovers and learn what we want and how to articulate it.
  4. I write sexy because most of my readers are women, and women need models of female characters knowing, asking, and communicating their sexual needs.
  5. I write sexy because I want to show lovers in heterosexual relationships that the man should not be expected to read the woman’s mind about what she wants. That’s profoundly unfair.
  6. I write sexy because I want to show lovers in homosexual and queer relationships that they don’t have to model their dynamic of sex or love on heterosexual norms.
  7. I write sexy because someone has to write love scenes where who’s in charge and who’s in control and who’s the dominant partner defies cultural expectations.
  8. I write sexy because fiction has the power to show that passion can be the big guy on the bottom, or the femme on top, or the extrovert being emphatic, or a desire being voiced without mockery.
  9. I write sexy because to do any of this I have to write (at least some) explicit sex. Because it’s hot. Oh yeah, and because I want to. So there.

I dare you to try it.

No seriously. You know what’s easy to write? Fighting. Violence. Action. It’s easy and it’s lazy. Try writing a hot, unpredictable, emotion-packed, sex scene. Try writing a funny poignant one. Go on. I dare you. Every writer reading this right now. I. Dare. You.

(Flouncing done now.)

As ever you don’t have to take my word for it:

If you want me to talk more explicitly about writing sexy and how why I chose it for my own books, it do that in this video at TS 39.16 in.

The four books I reference in this Video:

images of YA versus not YA

Crudrat (YA no sex at all) vs 5th Gender (explicit gay-ish); Finishing School (YA bit of kissing) vs Poison or Protect (explicit het femme domme) 

A Breakdown of My Books By Heat Level

Is this a kissing book?

Crudrat (YA) ~ Nothing sexy at all, maybe kissing in the (eventual) second book, no kissing at all in the first.

The Finishing School series (YA) ~ Some kissing in the later books, interracial het relationship, no marriage.

Tinkered Starsong series (YA) ~ Some kissing in the later books, queer relationship, special high head version of book 2 offered direct from Gail.

Wait, am I reading a romance novel?

The Parasol Protectorate series ~ Sex is discussed but not in detail, we follow characters into bedrooms but no parts are named, het main relationship with some bisexual and homosexual flirtation.

Supernatural Society ~ Sex is discussed and alluded to exactly as in the Parasol Protectorate above, but the relationships are all queer.

The Custard Protocol ~ Sex is discussed somewhat in detail using Victorian terms, characters are flirty and followed into the bedroom, all kinds of relationships.

Getting jiggy with it.

Claw & Courtship ~ Heat levels range, but mostly similar to Custard Protocol, slightly explicit with parts named. Relationships are heterosexual but emphasis is on female sexual agency and choice, slightly kinky twists on a vanilla dynamic.

Delightfully Deadly ~ Mostly heterosexual relationships, sex act is described, female character has agency and choice. Some have little to no explicit sex, or the door is “closed on the couple.” Intended to explore feminist approaches to traditional romance writing (from a true Domme, to a self aware woman who actually just wants to marry, to an older/plump woman finding love).

All the things! As G. L. CARRIGER

The 5th Gender ~ Explicit queer sex, gentle relationships, humor, a bit of hentai (just a bit), complex notions of gender and sexuality and self-definition.

San Andreas Shifters ~ Explicit queer sex and bad language involving complicated sometimes broken men. Mostly gay, includes models of healthy poly, BDSM, bisexual, and other queer sexualities. Explores flipped dynamics such as true switches, gay verse, big guy bottoms, alpha subs, power play, etc…

Which book does Gail think is sexiest?

Want someone analyzing my sex scenes?

Poison or Protect: or Doing Sex Scenes Correctly by Robert Mitchell Evans

As always, you don’t have to take my word for it…

Yours in sexy-times,

Miss Gail

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Quote of the Day:

“Literature is all, or mostly, about sex.”

~ Anthony Burgess

Book de Jour!

The 5th Gender (A Tinkered Stars Mystery as G. L. Carriger).

Amazon | Elsewhere | Direct from Gail

Sci-fi queer romance meets cozy mystery in which a hot space station cop meets the most adorable purple alien ever (lavender, pulease!) from a race with 5 genders.

Your Tisane of Smart . . .

The Allusionist podcasts about Polari (the coded languages of the queer community)
Also covers some of the history of queer culture, including that in the Victorian era.

Your Writerly Tinctures . . .  

“Each morning my characters greet me with misty faces willing, though chilled, to muster for another day’s progress through the dazzling quicksand the marsh of blank paper.”

~ John Updike

Find my books 

Direct | Amazon | KoboBookshop.org | B&N | Apple | FoylesMcnally Robinson | Angus Robertson

Here’s a printable Downloadable Checklist of ALL my books!

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Posted by Gail Carriger

4 Responses

  1. Jim Lesser said:

    Hi Gail, I just read your “Why Write Sexy? High Heat in Genre Fiction (Important for Authors)”. Wonderfully thought out and articulate – I wouldn’t have expected otherwise. I love all your prose from the light smooching to the full-on explicit stuff. Keep going and I look forward to reading more of your work. Best regards, Jim (a big fan)

    1. Hazel said:

      Dear Gail,
      You have done an admirable job of accomplishing your listed aims, for me at least. I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate clear consent being included. You have also broadened my horizons considerably because whilst I do not consider myself close-minded, all of my close friends (with whom I discuss sex) are in het relationships. When I started with Parasol protectorate, who knew I’d be follow on with Sumage and 5th gender? I even read and enjoyed Earth Father’s Are Weird (protectiveness and acceptance did it for me more than tentacle sex but still) – horizons broadened.

  2. Gail said:

    I just finished San Andreas Shifter #1 and am into #2. I LOVE THE WAY YOU WRITE SEXY! It’s delightfully real, emotional, hot and honest.

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