How Do You Put On Your Raincoat?
I think I can assume that most of us write romance novels or at least fiction with a strong romantic element and that means one thing – sooner or later we write about S-E-X. Now, some of us write great scenes of sexual tension, have a kiss or two and then firmly close the door. And, some of us (myself included) leave the door wide open and let the reader in on every sweaty, naked, orgasmic moment.
And, when we talk about sex we have to think about safe sex. And when we think about safe sex, we think about how to tackle it in our scenes without “ruining the moment” for reader.
So, I guess you’re wondering how I started thinking about this topic . . . sure you are. Well, this article has caused quite a stir within the romance writing industry. I won’t bore you all the ridiculous, specious scientific details (it’s total rubbish really) but the gist of it is that romance writers create unhealthy attitudes in our readers because we do not address the use of safe sex in our books and (it gets better!) our readers are stupid and will engage in risky sexual behavior.
What a load of . . . rubbers. ; )
Now, sometimes we may write about characters who engage in risky sexual behavior and fail to protect themselves or their partners. And that is okay – if if that is true to the character we are writing about and we want to portray them in a realistic manner. There are moving, thought-provoking books out there that deal head-on with the tough subjects and this is just one of them. But, I’ve never thought that the author was writing in an irresponsible manner or that their readers are dumb enough to think of it is an endorsement.
As an author who writes contemporary romance with smart, sexy heroes and heroines who respect themselves and their partner, the inclusion of safe sex practices in my books is always a must-have. The challenge is weaving it into the story in a way that rings true with the characters, their relationship and the plot. For me, that usually means that I will deal with it an straightforward and possibly humorous way. For example, in one of my manuscripts, I handled it this way:
Her reminder, forced him to let her go just long enough to paw through his suitcase for the condoms he’d packed as an afterthought. Rummaging around, he shoved aside his gun, grabbed the string of six blue foil packets and turned back to the naked woman in his bed.
Yeah, six might be enough.
Some authors weave it into the storyline and make it an essential element in portraying the characters journey. Sloan Parker does this beautifully in one of my favorite books, MORE. In this M/M/M romance she weaves the discussion of going bareback (sex without a condom) into the story and ties it integrally to the issue of trust. Her character, Luke, isn’t ready to take that step with his partners and his journey towards that level of trust is breathtaking.
So, how do you, as an author, tackle this issue? Do you dread it? Keep it on the down low? Or do you think of it as way to crank up the heat level?