I met award-winning author Norah Wilson after winning a chapter critique she’d donated to an online fundraiser. She enjoyed my writing, gave me tons of invaluable feedback, and I will always be thankful to her for helping me make There’s Only Been You the best it could be. I also read her New Voice In Romance winning novel, Lauren’s Eyes, which I absolutely loved!
And today I’m thrilled to have her join us for a little Sex Talk…
Norah, thank you for being such a great sport and allowing me this opportunity. Now, let’s talk SEX. First question: When writing a love scene, whose POV do you prefer to write from?
Oh, what a great question! I don’t know that I have a preference. I love writing them from either POV.
But when it comes down to it, it’s no different than picking the POV character for any other type of scene. Who has the most to lose or gain here? How can I have the most impact? I tend to stick with one POV character for a whole scene, and if one character has the POV, the sequel is likely to be in the other character’s POV. But if I’m going to switch POVs mid-scene, it will be with a love scene, so I can illuminate it from the other side.
Oh, and a great answer! I also love writing them from both POV (I love to get into my hero’s head!). Do all of your love scenes have the same heat level, or do you tend to write hotter sex with certain sub-genres?
I think of my sex scenes as very hot but tastefully so (without resorting to ridiculous euphemisms!), and very much emotionally charged. If I had to assign a typical flame rating, I’d call it a 3, particularly for my romantic suspense. I’d have to say, though, that the sex scenes in the paranormal romances are hotter – maybe 3.5, occasionally bordering on 4. I think that’s partly because of the expectations of the genre, but too, it owes something to the raw material I have to work with in a paranormal. For instance, in the world I’ve created for my vampires, once the H&h are engaged in coitus and blood has been taken, they achieve a sort of shared consciousness of each other’s emotions and sensations. That’s just bound to be hotter, right? And the language might get a little franker.
Hey, I’m a-okay with frank language…LOL So how do you balance the romance and emotion of a love scene with the mechanics so it retains a feeling of romance and not just sex?
I think deep POV is the answer. If I am that deeply embedded in a character’s skin, and have spent the last 40,000 – 50,000 words getting them to this point, I have a lot invested. And I’m going to take every last bit of their fears and hopes and desires and vulnerabilities in there with me when I write it.
Also, it’s a progression. In the romances of my youth, the consummated sex scene (or sometimes just the promise of it) was the icing on the cake after the H&h had earned their happily ever after. With today’s romances, sex just opens up a whole new level of complication. The first sex scene might be the result of high adrenaline or some situational element, and there’s always the strangeness, the newness of that first encounter. Sometimes it is about what they’re experiencing physically. But as the relationship progresses and deepens, as the protective layers are peeled away, it becomes a very different act. That’s my very favorite thing, tearing down their defenses and leaving them truly naked.
And being naked is truly the key. *cheesy grin* Are sex scenes the same in each sub or are there different considerations between say, a paranormal and a western?
As I said earlier, the paranormal really gives you license to play with sex in a way that the non-paranormal stuff doesn’t. I mean, to an extent, sex is sex is sex. It’s pretty mechanical – until you add brand new dimensions, like shared sensations. Imagine experiencing sex normally, but with the added dimension of being simultaneously plugged into your partner’s sensory input. J
And even that you can play with. In my soon-to-be-released vampire romance NIGHTFALL, the hero, Aiden Afflack, is a hunter who’s been slaying rogues and bedding women for centuries, and the sex is always fantastic. Until he meets storm chaser/photographer Sam Shea. Sam’s severely tamped down psychic powers are what guide her to these fantastic photo ops she’s made a career of capturing, but her exceptional mind also gives her the power to shut Aiden out at will. After 200 years, he’s finally found a woman of mystery. For him, there is strange walking-a-tight-rope kind of thrill in making love with Sam and not knowing exactly what she wants. As he would put it, What’s the damned point where the edge is if you don’t have to feel for it?
Is there anything you won’t write?
I don’t write anal and I don’t write sex toys. Not that I disapprove of either, but I don’t incorporate them for the same reasons I don’t incorporate threesomes. My muse lives pretty squarely in Romancelandia. And in Romancelandia, the H&h’s relationship is new and exciting and they are each all the other needs, and it will be some time before they require sex aids or have to resort to new frontiers to spice up the love life. FWIW, I don’t mind taking a trip to Erotica, as my Kindle will attest, but I leave the writing of it to other talented authors.
Oh, and another thing! Unless the hero is a vampire and there’s zero risk of STDs or pregnancy, I rarely write unprotected sex, and if I do, there’s a reason.
Yeah, your muse sounds a lot like mine. J My good friend Liza writes anal and threesomes…which leads into my next question. What raises your personal ick antennae, etc.?
Oh, gosh! Another great question! Let me see – too much dripping and oozing can be a bit of a turnoff. That’s prolly why I’m a 3-flame kinda girl. But generally, in Romancelandia, there’s not too much that disturbs me. With the more erotic stuff, I will confess that sometimes the germaphobe in me raises its head.
I love a good erotic romance myself, but I hear ya about the ‘oozing’…LOL What’s your favorite part of the love scene?
I have two answers for this. (I can tell you’re not even surprised by now.)
Okay, one of the things I love to do is inflict bad sex on the H&h. Yes, I am a real B like that. J And often it’s the first time. Unmet expectations, mismatched expectations, crossed wires…. It just provides so much potential for fresh conflict.
But once we’re beyond that, my favorite sex scenes to write are the ones closer to the end, where tenderness begins to supplant more carnal instincts as the predominant emotional tone.
Do you write oral sex?
Absolutely! But again, it’s sort of a progression. Usually, it requires (and signifies) a level of trust that has developed between the characters.
Okay, I admit it. I love oral sex. Both writing it and reading it. *grin* Here’s something I‘ve often pondered—Do you think a novel should have a certain number of love scenes?
I think a novel can be very hot with no consummated love scenes at all, or with only one. But I tend to write at least 3-4 major love scenes in mine. Personally, I think they are integral to the development of the relationship. And I know writers who just type “INSERT LOVE SCENE HERE”, an go back to writing the story. They only come back to write that scene when the book is done. I could NEVER do that, because in my world, every breath, every whisper, every touch changes things. And until you live through that love scene with your characters, how can you possible know the nuances of how their relationship is changed? How, therefore, can you write blithely on? Yes, I know they have a good idea what the characters’ emotional pitch is going to be on the other side of the love scene, but I just can’t do it. Maybe because I can no longer feel that I am still authentically in their heads.
What do you do, if anything, to set the mood before writing a love scene? (I’ve heard some people light candles, slip into slinky lingerie, etc.)
Probably not bad advice! And I’ve been known to write with an after dinner glass of wine for sure! But typically, to write a love scene, the only thing I have to slip into is my writing trance. Most of the time, that’s not unduly hard to do. But I will say, I am challenged sometimes in the winter to write a really good love scene. I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Not that I’m plunged into the depths of despair or anything like that. But I definitely feel more socially withdrawn, emotionally numbed and inclined toward carb loading and hibernation. So when SAD strikes, I find I have to work harder to access my own emotions and find real empathy for these characters.
You probably saw this one coming…Which of the love scenes you've written so far is your favorite?
Oh, what a wicked, wicked question! You would make me choose? I can’t! That would be like saying I love Aiden more than
I think my favorite love scene might be from Nightfall, when Sam realizes she’s been treating Aiden like every other woman has – like a freakin’ rock star or something. She confronts the fact that she’s been no better than the vampire groupies who clamor for a piece of him. But everything she’s come to know about him as a man suddenly meets and merges with her image of him as the larger-than-life superhero. In a flash of intuition, she realizes that he hasn’t been touched by a hand that truly loved him in centuries A hand that wanted to give and not take. Of course, she vows to make sure that by the time she’s done with him, he will know that she touched him with love. And she delivers on that promise. Aiden’s vulnerability in this scene just slayed me.
Oh, wow…*sigh*…now that’s sexy. So how do you keep your love scenes fresh from one book to the next?
I think in the big picture, I find myself repeating things (did I mention bad sex the first time out is great?) And I repeat what I see as heroic attributes (my heroes often find themselves pulling back from sex when they realize the heroine is not in a good place to make that decision). But in the small picture – the minutiae that make one couple’s encounter different than the next couple’s – I find it’s always fresh. I am in their heads, in their skins, and this is THEIR experience, not someone else’s. I hope that by remaining connected to this deep POV, I am delivering an experience that is equally fresh for the reader.
Norah, thanks so much for joining me today! Your insight was invaluable…and a lots of fun, too!
**And now for the best part! Norah is giving away not one, but TWO of her amazing e-books (winners’ choice of format)! One copy each of Guarding Suzannah & The Merzetti Effect! All you have to do is leave her a comment (and don’t forget to include your email address!). The winners will be posted on Friday, September 16th, and will also be notified by email.J
Guarding Suzannah, the first book in Norah’s romantic suspense series To Serve and Protect.
There's no love lost between criminal defense lawyer Suzannah Phelps and the Fredericdton police department. Now she's being stalked, but she won’t turn to the police, who may be behind it. But when Det. John Quigley learns of it, he's determined to protect her, no matter who is harassing her. They've struck sparks off each other in the courtroom, and he's burning to do the same in the bedroom.
“Sizzling chemistry and tingling suspense are combined in GUARDING SUZANNAH to make it the best romantic suspense I've read. I think this award-winning author has produced an edge of your seat beginning to a great series!”
~ The Romance Reviews
Dr. Delano Bowen has searched over a century for a cure for his vampirism. At last, he's found it in nurse Ainsley Crawford, a descendent of the Merzetti family, carriers of an anti-vampirism agent. She has no idea of the genetic gift Delano is reaping. When danger threatens, he draws her close to protect her. But when attraction flares, hot and urgent, she could literally be the death of him.
“Expertly plotted, with masterfully crafted characters and vivid, polished prose, this extraordinary novel launches Norah Wilson into the upper echelons of the vampire genre.”